President Trump’s exuberant humiliation of Rex Tillerson

It’s difficult to imagine how Rex Tillerson might have survived any longer as President Trump’s secretary of state.

Tillerson’s doom was written in his acceptance. The former president of the Boy Scouts of America, himself a former Eagle Scout, a member of his high-school marching band, an earnest Congregationalist, a proponent of free trade and Common Core, a supporter of Mitt Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush during the last election, Tillerson was the least representative of all Trump’s major cabinet nominees. Perhaps the only thing, aside from his proven ability to make money on behalf of his employers, that might have endeared the former CEO of Exxon to the president is his longstanding use of a bizarre alias — “Wayne Tracker” — to conduct business correspondence.

A better man than Tillerson would not have lasted longer. It’s impossible to serve this administration in any role of significance without surrendering one’s dignity. The meanest panderer might, by affecting zeal for the fluctuating enthusiasms of the quasi-imperial personage in the White House, secure for himself a temporary respite from the whispers of other toadies and the unpredictable wrath of Trump himself. Meanwhile the gravest personalities, decorated veterans of the Armed Forces and supposed luminaries of the business world, have succumbed to whatever private madness seems to have infected the White House.

It’s a mistake to assume that Tillerson’s firing was largely a question of policy. Presidents and their chief diplomats frequently disagree about courses of action, but these disputes are conducted under the dignified mantle of official discretion. The secretary of state cannot speak against his president in a public forum, but the president should not announce sweeping changes without consulting the former. From the first, both men disregarded these established norms of conduct in favor of an endless exchange of spiteful and dismissive remarks. Trump made crude remarks at a Boy Scout camp; Tillerson complained to the press. Trump insisted upon a tenfold increase in America’s nuclear arsenal; Tillerson let it be known that he considered his commander-in-chief “a moron,” and Trump challenged him to an IQ test competition.

On numerous occasions the president made a point of publicly contradicting Tillerson, on issues ranging from the official American attitude towards the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar to the efficacy of negotiating with Kim Jong Un, a.k.a., “Little Rocket Man,” an issue about which both men seem to have changed their minds. Time and again Tillerson offered to resign, always allowing himself to be dissuaded by Vice President Pence. Meanwhile Tillerson’s staff despised the president and his circle. They regretted Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and his declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city less because they considered them fringe decisions made without regard for the niceties of diplomacy — to which they also seemed indifferent — but because they were undertaken without consulting their chief. To attempt to serve in this administration is to volunteer for a turf war which the president is incapable by definition of losing.

Tillerson will not …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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