“Toady” and “sycophant” work well, but for that special occasion….

When I was still teaching English and incorporating weekly vocabulary quizzes into the curriculum, I often provided a few auxiliary words, many of them outside the mainstream.

I’ll confess, now that the statute of limitations must have expired, I did it for myself as much as for my students: I just liked learning words, and if I had to say them aloud and define them and use them, then they became mine, ancillary as they may have been.

Ancillary was one of them.

So was myrmidon.

In truth, I’ve used ancillary a few times in my life and heard others use it frequently. I’ve seldom used myrmidon and might not be using it today had it not been for Stephen Miller’s CNN appearance yesterday; yes, the one after which security had to escort him from the building.

Myrmidon.

I used to define it for the students as a yes-man, anyone who unquestionably and unscrupulously follows the command of his superior. (As a proper noun its roots lie in Greek mythology.) In modern parlance, sycophant and toady seem to have taken hold. Jake Tapper himself used the word obsequious to label Miller, a word I thought served the purpose well. But anybody familiar with myrmidon and who watched Tapper confront Stephen Miller yesterday would have felt that wonderful ancient word come rushing back.

Stephen Miller, of course, is the White House senior advisor (let that roll around in your head) whose sole reason for granting the interview was to announce publicly his undying adulation for Donald Trump. Apparently Miller didn’t mind humiliating himself in front of a national audience, mainly because—as Tapper astutely pointed out—Miller was playing to an audience of one. Trump was watching, and in fact tweeted his approval within minutes of Miller’s having been escorted out of the studio by security.

Someone with better research skills than mine may want to check and see the last time that happened to a White House senior advisor. Of course only in the Trump regime would such abject embarrassment garner praise from his superior, but here we are.

This was, of course, another Trumpianic attack on the media, particularly CNN newscasters. The ensuing tweet offered more of the usual:

Tweet

Add this to Trump’s attempt to halt publication of Michael Wolff’s “Fake Book” Fire and Fury, the ongoing assault on the nation’s leading newspapers, and the unofficial declaration that Fox News has become the State-run Media, and the truth in this country is in much greater peril than we may have thought.

Jake Tapper cut off yesterday’s interview by saying that Miller was wasting viewers’ time. It was true. But as a window into that lunatic White House—and as further evidence that the Wolff book is more fact than fantasy—it was not a waste of time, merely more evidence.

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Chuck Radda

I'm a former high school English teacher, currently a literacy volunteer and novelist. I invite your responses right here or to chuckradda@gmail.com. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter—where I tweet annually at @chuckrad45.

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