Tag Archives: Rex Tillerson

What is Jared doing to our foreign policy?

One of Donald Trump’s “best people” is being heard once again.

He is former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who went from hero to zero in less than two years. Trump hired him as the nation’s top diplomat, heaping praise on the former ExxonMobil CEO as a man of unsurpassed brilliance; he booted him out, saying he was dumb as a stump.

But the former secretary of state is being heard again. He is telling interviewers about how the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — a young man with zero diplomatic experience — pushed Tillerson aside to conduct foreign policy … in the Middle East, of all places!

Tillerson met with the House Foreign Relations Committee recently and gave a scathing report on working within the Trump White House. According to the Daily Beast: “One of the challenges I think that everyone had… to learn to deal with was the role, the unique situation with the president’s son-in-law [Kushner] and daughter [Ivanka] being part of the White House advisory team,” Tillerson said, according to the transcript The Daily Beast obtained. “There was not a real clear understanding of the role, responsibilities, authorities… which made it challenging for everyone, I think, in terms of how to deal with activities that might be undertaken by others that were not defined within the national-security process itself.”

I want to stress with all the energy I can muster that Jared Kushner has no business conducting sensitive negotiations with Middle East heads of government and heads of state. He is as totally unqualified to negotiate with anyone in that region as the president is to hold the office to which he was elected. Yet the president has given this hanger-on the responsibility of hammering out a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East?

Let’s face it, Rex Tillerson was right when he called Trump a “fu**ing moron,” an epithet he never has denied hurling in the president’s direction.

And the president has placed an empty suit in charge of one of the most challenging diplomatic tasks anywhere on Earth.

Amazing.

‘Dumb as a rock’ Tillerson isn’t so dumb

This is the kind of story that makes me shake my head in utter disbelief.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that Russian strongman Vladimir Putin was better prepared than Donald Trump for his 2017 meeting with the president, which prompted this response from the Leader of the Free World:

“Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing.”

Ah, yes. The president of the United States is at his “finest” when he gets his Twitter digits limbered up.

However, this does beg the question: If the president who pledged to surround himself with the “best people” was going to hire a secretary of state, why would he select someone who is “totally ill prepared and ill equipped” to do the job of representing U.S. foreign policy interests?

Tillerson wouldn’t have been my first choice as secretary of state. However, he is far from being “dumb as a rock.”

He also was right when he described the president as a “moron.”

Trump’s delusion is accelerating

Donald J. Trump either really doesn’t read anything or has become increasingly delusional.

I’ll go with, um, both possibilities.

The Southern District of New York U.S. attorney’s office has said former Trump friend/Mr. Fixer Michael Cohen should serve prison time for his pattern of lies to federal authorities. Cohen might get four to five years in the slammer for his greed-driven felonies.

Trump responded immediately via Twitter — of course: Totally clears the President. Thank you!

Hmm. Let me think about that. OK, Mr. President. It doesn’t clear you in the least.

Nothing has cleared the president, certainly not his hysterical yammering about there being “no collusion” between his campaign and the Russian operatives to interfered in our 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller issued a separate memo regarding Cohen, saying he has provided “substantial help” to the special counsel team that is investigating the allegations of collusion.

Does any of that imply — even tangentially — any “clearing” of the president? No. It doesn’t.

It tells me that Mueller is still at work, although I am among those Americans who hopes he is getting close to the conclusion of his exhaustive, meticulous and comprehensive investigation.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated this week that Trump refuses to read anything, that he acts impulsively, that he sought to commit illegal acts. Tillerson said he sought to advise the president of the illegality of what he wanted done; that was when the men’s relationship turned frosty.

Tillerson’s assertion about the president’s refusal to read anything rings even more true today as he comments in the wake of the sentencing memo regarding Michael Cohen “totally clears the president.”

Pay attention, Mr. President. Your delusions are getting the better of you. You are in deepening trouble, sir.

Tillerson isn’t ‘dumb’; however, POTUS might be another matter

Rex Tillerson shouldn’t have served as secretary of state.

He didn’t have the foreign policy chops one would expect in such a sensitive diplomatic post. However, he isn’t “dumb as a rock,” as the president has said in a tweet. Nor is he “lazy as hell.”

Tillerson is an accomplished Texas business mogul. He also was surrounded by a legal team at State that told him that Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump was making demands that violated the law.

So that’s what Tillerson said this week, incurring the Twitter wrath of the president.

Sigh. I hasten to add that if there is any dumbness to be found inside the Trump administration, I believe it can be seen in the man who runs the show. Seriously, man.

The nonsensical idiocy that flows from his Twitter account tells me that the president of the United States — the elected head of state — is deficient in (a) the use of the English language and (b) any sense of propriety for the high office to which he was elected.

He should refrain from calling anyone “dumb.”

However, he won’t.

‘Dumb as a rock’? Seriously, Mr. POTUS?

Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, has just posted a Twitter message about a man he nominated to become the secretary of state, the nation’s top foreign service officer.

Mike Pompeo is doing a great job, I am very proud of him. His predecessor, Rex Tillerson, didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell. Now it is a whole new ballgame, great spirit at State!

Yep, that’s our president, the guy who sought to present the United States’ foreign policy statements through its secretary of state.

Now he calls the man he fired earlier this year “dumb as a rock.”

I don’t believe Rex Tillerson is “dumb as a rock.” He ran ExxonMobil oil company before he took the job as the nation’s top diplomat. I don’t believe he was well-suited for the job at State.

It is simply astonishing, though, that the president — our head of state, our commander in chief, the leader of the free world — would resort to the kind of language he is using to denigrate someone he hired for this most sensitive of jobs.

And we’re expected to take the president seriously?

Rex T breaks his silence in a big way

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now a private citizen. He isn’t a silent citizen, though.

Here is what he told graduating cadets at Virginia Military Institute: When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial of matters, we go wobbly on America.”

Who in the world do you think Tillerson is referring to when he said we “go wobbly on the truth”?

He didn’t mention Donald J. Trump by name, but Tillerson appears to be unsheathing his rhetorical weaponry at the president.

He talked about accepting “alternate realities.” Which reminds me of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s priceless coining of the term “alternative facts.”

Tillerson’s tenure at State didn’t go well from the beginning. It ended when Trump fired him and then replaced him with CIA director Mike Pompeo. Tillerson left the agency quietly, but to his credit he is not remaining quiet.

“If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both private and public sector, and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector, then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years,” Tillerson said to the VMI cadets.

Yes, we are witnessing an epidemic of “crisis of ethics and integrity in our society.” I believe its source of late has been in the halls of power at the highest levels of our government. I also believe that Rex Tillerson knows that to be true as well.

I am glad his voice is being heard once again. The former chief diplomat has an important message to deliver.

Secretary Pompeo gets to work

Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be secretary of state cleared the Senate committee vote he needed by the narrowest of margins. It was a single vote.

Then the full U.S. Senate voted today to confirm him. The vote was 57-42; Republican John McCain was absent and unable to vote.

What does this mean for the new secretary? The way I see it, it means he has little bipartisan backing to tackle the difficult tasks of forging a foreign policy that commands the attention and respect of our nation’s allies and, yes, its foes.

Secretaries of state traditionally get huge margins. The only recent secretary of state to be confirmed by a margin comparable to the one that Pompeo earned was, interestingly, Donald J. Trump’s first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

The Associated Press reported that every secretary of state dating back to the Carter administration had received at least 85 Senate votes for confirmation.

Why is this important? Foreign policy shouldn’t fall along partisan lines. It shouldn’t reflect the deep divisions within our nation’s partisan political machinery. The United States should speak with a single voice when it deals with foreign policy. That’s long been a tradition. Sadly, that longstanding practice now appears to be buried under the deep and bitter partisan divisions.

It reflects the chasm that separates Republicans and Democrats. It is unhealthy in the extreme, particularly since Secretary Pompeo now must take the lead on preparation for the unprecedented summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the mercurial leader of North Korea.

Pompeo and Kim already have met. No one has reported precisely how that first meeting — conducted under the cover of secrecy — produced, other than the president saying something about Pompeo and Kim getting “along well.”

The Senate vote will stand, though, as a message that the new secretary of state doesn’t have the bipartisan support he needs to move forward as the prime spokesman for our foreign policy apparatus.

My hope is that he earns it.

Pompeo to become diplomat with thin backing

Mike Pompeo is likely to be confirmed as the nation’s next secretary of state, but he’ll take strange route on his way to leading the nation’s diplomatic corps.

Pompeo is the CIA director whom Donald Trump selected to succeed Rex Tillerson at the State Department. He has run into trouble on his way to confirmation: Pompeo won’t have the blessing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which conducted confirmation hearings on Pompeo’s nomination.

A Republican committee member, Rand Paul of Kentucky, is going to vote against Pompeo’s nomination. That will result more than likely in a vote of no confidence from the panel.

That won’t derail his confirmation. The full Senate will get to vote on it, but Pompeo will gain the support of Senate Democrats who might be in trouble in states that Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe  Manchin of West Virginia come to mind; let’s toss in Bill Nelson of Florida while we’re at it. They’re all running for re-election, which seems to give Pompeo a leg up in this strange journey toward confirmation.

Actually, I hope Pompeo does get confirmed. The State Department needs a steady hand and I think Pompeo can provide it … if only the president will allow him to lead the agency.

Tillerson had to fight the occasional battle against being undercut by the president. Tillerson would make a pronouncement and then Trump would countermand him. I don’t want that to happen with the new secretary of state, who’s got a big job awaiting him immediately — which happens to be the preparation for the planned summit between Donald Trump and North Korean despot Kim Jong Un.

What’s more, as head of the CIA, Pompeo has joined other U.S. intelligence officials in confirming the obvious: that the Russians meddled in our 2016 election.

This man needs to be our secretary of state.

Tillerson for UT chancellor? Hey, why not?

This will sound like I’m damning someone with faint praise, but that’s not my intent. The Texas Tribune is reporting that Rex Tillerson, the soon-to-depart secretary of state might be under consideration to  become chancellor of the University of Texas System.

To which I would add: Why not pick Tillerson? He’s worked already inside arguably the most dysfunctional government system on Earth; that would be the executive branch of the U.S. government. He’s cut his teeth on chaos, confusion and controversy. So, whatever troubles afflicting the UT System Board of Regents would be easy for him to handle.

The UT Board of Regents has had its fill of its own brand of chaos of late. One of the regents had been targeted for possible ouster because of alleged meddling in the affairs of the UT-Austin campus. The board at times has seemed as though its members don’t get along, don’t work cohesively.

The current chancellor, William McRaven, is set to retire for health reasons. I wish McRaven could stay on. I like the man’s background: U.S. Navy admiral, SEAL, former commander of the U.S. Special Forces Command. He’s a no-nonsense flag officer, who happened to oppose legislation approved last year to allow guns on college and university campuses.

Tillerson bleeds burnt orange. He graduated from UT before heading off to pursue a highly successful business career that culminated in his becoming CEO of ExxonMobil. Then he got the call from Donald Trump to become secretary of state. That gig didn’t work out too well.

I don’t blame Tillerson so much as I blame the president for the dysfunction that highlighted (or lowlighted) Tillerson’s tenure at State.

A Texas university system chancellor’s main job is to raise money for the system. Tillerson is well-positioned to fatten the UT System’s already bulging cache of endowments. Plus, he’s been baptized already in a system that exudes dysfunction.

Hey, the UT job would be a piece of cake!

Look out, ‘radical Islam’

President George W. Bush told us in clear and unequivocal terms while the nation grieved over the 9/11 attack: We are not at war with Islam.

President Barack H. Obama followed that message to the letter. On the night he announced the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the president told us that bin Laden was not a “Muslim leader,” but that he was a “mass murderer of Muslims.”

A new president has taken over. Donald J. Trump has just nominated Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state and has appointed John Bolton to be the new national security adviser.

These two men — not to mention the president — seem intent on changing the narrative. They want to take direct aim at “radical Islam,” as if the terrorists with whom we are at war represent a great world religion. They do not. They have perverted Islam to fit some ruthless ideology.

As Politico has reported: Both Bolton and Pompeo will now be working for a president who has alleged, with no evidence, that American Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks, and who has proposed banning all foreign Muslims from U.S. shores. Critics say the personnel moves suggest Trump’s worst instincts on how to approach the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims will find receptive ears among his foreign policy aides.

Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, who will be leaving the State Department and the National Security Council, respectively, were thought to have some sort of moderating influence on Trump. But the president has shoved them aside, elevating two more fiery confidants to help formulate U.S. foreign policy. They are likely to seek to steer the president toward a position that mainstream Muslims might interpret to be more hostile to their religious faith.

That, I suggest, is a dangerous trend.

The killers with whom we have been at war since 9/11 need damn little pretext to recruit new militants to follow their perverted cause.