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Donald Trump’s sycophant problem, in one tweet

One thing that’s come out in various hacked emails released by WikiLeaks is that many of Hillary Clinton’s campaign staffers and informal advisers are sensible people. They recognize that Clinton’s reluctance to apologize for things is bad. They worry that she has too much of a soft spot for certain longtime hangers-on who don’t necessarily serve her interests well.

Donald Trump says that he would not tolerate the presence of people who say bad things about him in his campaign or his White House.

As a quick way of bringing some more attention to unflattering emails about Clinton, this tweet is savvy. But as an expression of Trump’s actual thinking — and I fear that’s what it is — it’s just another example of his serious sycophant problem.

The reality is that nobody is perfect. In theory, one advantage a wealthy or powerful individual should have in coping with his or her imperfections is that you can rely on staff to help you out with things. The risk, however, is that you end up simply surrounding yourself with flatterers and sycophants who tell you what you want to hear.

What Trump is telling us time and again — from this tweet to his absurd doctor’s letter to his incessant feuds with other Republican leaders — is that he is very much in the flatterers and sycophants camp. He doesn’t want aides and advisers who will point out his flaws to him or to each other, meaning he won’t build a team that will help hold those tendencies in check.

Clinton has her flaws and so does her team. But the fact that there are people close to her who are willing to speak frankly about those flaws and try to correct them is a good thing. The last thing we need in the White House is a touchy and defensive president who only wants to cocoon himself with what he wants to hear.


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