I’m allowed to eat a bit of crow, aren’t I?
I was one of those who was skeptical about Rex Tillerson’s appointment as secretary of state in the Trump administration. In recent days and weeks, though, I’ve become a believer in the former ExxonMobil mogul’s ability to do the job and to speak for the United States of America.
There’s reporting that Tillerson might not be long for Donald Trump’s administration. He might not stay on the job for a year. He might bail early.
I hope he stays on. I hope he can find a way to work with that clown wagon known as the Trump administration.
My fear is that the clock has begun ticking on Secretary Tillerson’s tenure.
The president might have started the moment he heard Tillerson tell Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that “the president speaks for himself.” The context of that response, though, is most telling.
Wallace asked Tillerson about the Charlottesville riot and the nation’s mood in the wake of the violence that erupted. Tillerson said the world understands the State Department’s commitment to human rights.
Wallace then asked about whether the president concurs. That’s when Tillerson responded with the “speaks for himself” comment.
To my ears, it sounded as though the secretary was putting some distance between the department he runs and the man to whom Tillerson reports — the president.
As the Washington Post reported: “And some who have recently seen Tillerson say the former ExxonMobil chief executive — unaccustomed to taking orders from a superior, let alone one as capricious as Trump — also seems to be ready to end his State Department tenure. He has grumbled privately to (White House chief of staff John) Kelly about Trump’s recent controversies, said two people familiar with their relationship.”
Tillerson exhibited some much-needed sanity, maturity and intelligence in that moment. The nation needs more of it.
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