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Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote a book about the first Republican president and his cabinet that's titled Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Trump Cabinet Meeting

She ought to write a sequel about the current GOP president, his cabinet and the party bigwigs and call it Team of Toadies: A Study in Sycophancy.

Lincoln's cabinet included Secretary of State William H. Seward, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Attorney Gen. Edward Bates and Simon Cameron, secretary of war. They were Lincoln's main competition for the Republican presidential nomination in 1860.

"We need the strongest men of the party in the Cabinet," Goodwin quoted Lincoln.

The president understood that he had to have an able crew to help him steer the ship of state through the Civil War, the most troubled waters in American history.

He even hired Edwin M. Stanton, a former Democrat, to replace Cameron in 1862. Stanton didn't vote for Lincoln and trashed the president as "the original gorilla."

The especially irascible Stanton was not one to pull punches, which was a big reason why Lincoln hired him. The president wanted men about him who would tell him what he needed to hear to win the war, save the Union and put slavery on the road to extinction--not what they thought he wanted to hear. 

It's the opposite with Trump. He demands obsequiousness.

Lincoln and his team often butted heads. He never called on them, one by one, to tell him how great he was and how grateful they were to serve him.

Who can forget the oleaginous cabinet conclave on TV a year ago this month when Trump went around the table giving everybody an opportunity to brag on the emperor's dazzling duds?

Who can forget the oleaginous cabinet conclave on TV a year ago this month when Trump went around the table giving everybody an opportunity to brag on the emperor's dazzling duds? They swooned that it was an “honor,” “privilege” and “blessing” to serve under the narcissist-in-chief, Vox's Sean Illing reported.

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The command performances continue. Trump commands, and everybody performs. Nero would be jealous.

Lincoln received dozens of battlefield reports that told of Union victories and defeats, of brilliant and blundering generals, of hostile newspaper editorials and of ever-lengthening casualty rolls in what became America's most lethal conflict. Lincoln demanded to know it all, the good and the bad.

Vice News reported last fall that Trump got daily reports "littered with glowing tweets, fawning articles, clips of positive cable news segments, and occasionally pictures of himself on TV looking ... presidential," Illing also wrote.

He added: "If you want to last in this White House, you’ve got to lavish the president with adulation." Ask ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Lincoln fired cabinet members and generals, too, but not because they didn't sufficiently stroke his ego. He sacked them because they couldn't, or wouldn't, do their jobs.

Trump talks tough. But his bullying and bluster and his craving for flattery from his courtiers most likely betray his fundamental weakness and insecurity.

"To thine own self be true," Polonius famously warns in Hamlet. In other words, you can't kid yourself. So maybe Trump lashes out and demands obsequiousness, however contrived, because deep down inside, he really knows he's not up to his job.

"It’s deadly to a presidency to be surrounded by sycophants who are going to be emphasizing the need to stroke the president’s ego, to make him feel as if he’s always right and ingenious," Illing quoted historian Robert Dallek. "There are no easy decisions to be made in the White House; everything is difficult and complex and consequential. If ever there was a need for honesty and hard truths, it’s in the White House.

[dc]"S[/dc]omeone once said that history is argument without end, but so is politics and policymaking. But Trump is someone who is so thin-skinned and who thrives on the need for approval and adulation that it’s got to be hard to maintain an intellectually honest climate around him."

Berry Craig

But Trump's raiments are oh so regal. Ask his team of toadies.

Berry Craig