It’s To Laugh
I was watching one of my favorite news shows on TV when I heard the story about Secretary Tillerson calling President Trump a moron. As usual, I was multi-tasking, surfing channels to avoid commercials, checking my Zazzle sales reports on the Internet, etc.
About an hour later, it actually hit me: Tillerson called Trump a moron. I laughed out loud.
It’s sort of funny, but not really. It’s sort of surprising, but not really.
Not a Regular Moron
As the day progressed, I watched the news/opinion shows and listened to the panelists and commentators speculate about the nature of the Trump-Tillerson relationship and what would happen next.
But the question that comes to my mind is—Dude, what did you expect? Haven’t you been paying attention? Oh, of course you haven’t, otherwise you would never have taken the Secretary of State job in Donald Trump’s administration in the first place.
- As of July 2017, 50 countries and international organizations were without a US ambassador, according to the American Foreign Policy Association.
- Secretary Tillerson’s neglect of the State Department has created major bottlenecks in the policymaking process:
Tillerson is relying almost exclusively on only two aides—his Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin and Head of Policy Planning Brian Hook. Most of the department’s expertise are going unused and the Secretary is not getting the best information.
- Tillerson has lashed out at the White House over the staffing shortfalls, but others see the former Exxon CEO—who is also weighing cutting 2,300 to 2,500 jobs at State—as hollowing out or gutting the department he now leads.
- The incoming class of foreign service officers has been canceled, senior officials have been pushed out, retired officers who fill jobs on short-term assignments have been dismissed, and office managers have been told three people must leave before one hire can be made.
- Secretary Tillerson refused to spend nearly $80 million allocated by Congress to fight terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation.
- According to Richard Haass from the Council on Foreign Relations** what Tillerson is doing is basically diplomatic malpractice, in that so few jobs are filled and that there is no diplomatic initiative on North Korea. You have to couple rhetoric with real diplomacy and that isn’t been done.
- Secretary Tillerson told State Department staff that his biggest goal for the State Department is efficiency and that’s why he wants to shrink the State Department so much. They’ve even stopped doing daily press briefings.
- Tillerson has managed to be both ineffectual and destabilizing—unfamiliar with the workings of government, unwilling to provide inspirational leadership, disconnected from American values and seemingly hostile to the department in his care.
- Tillerson is developing a reputation for an unbelievable degree of micro-managing the department’s employees. This helps to explain in part why diplomats are leaving the state department in droves.
Secretary Tillerson’s relationship with the president of the United States is strained at best, he has no philosophy or signature initiative, he has barely staffed his own department, and he’s alienated the foreign service. The former CEO of ExxonMobil has taken one of the power positions in the U.S. government and made it an afterthought.***