Tag Archives: State Department

Will he stay or will he go?

In a world fraught with peril in seemingly every region, the world’s most indispensable nation needs a top diplomat with unqualified support from the head of state.

Does Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have such support from Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States?

Um, no. Not even close.

There are reports that Trump is engineering a way to shove Tillerson out the door. The president now responds that “Rex is here,” meaning, I suppose, that he’s staying put.

Tillerson hasn’t exactly distinguished himself as secretary of state, other than to call the president a “f****** moron,” and then refuse to deny he said such a thing. Trump responded with a cheeky, childish tweet about how he would score better than Tillerson on an IQ test.

Isn’t that just swell?

This back and forth between the president and the secretary of state is unsettling in the extreme.

It has to stop. The president either needs to give the secretary his unqualified support or he needs to get someone on board who can speak for the president … without getting undermined.

Clock is ticking on Rex T at State

I guess the die was cast when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the president of the United States a “f****** moron” and then pointedly refused to deny he said it.

The word is out that the White House is working on an ouster strategy that would send Tillerson packing and would install CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the next top diplomat.

Change is on its way … allegedly

It’s probably good that Tillerson will be replaced. He hasn’t been a particularly effective secretary of state. I mean, the guy seeks to open direct talks with North Korean leaders in connection with their foolish plans to develop a nuclear arsenal and then is told — via Twitter — that the president believes he is “wasting his time.”

The head of the State Department cannot function when he is being undermined so publicly by the president who appointed him to this highly important and sensitive job.

The word, too, has been Trump and Tillerson are not close. They never had met before Trump asked Tillerson to become secretary of state. That’s no surprise, though, given that Trump had virtually zero contact with anyone outside his own circle of business associates.

Would a Secretary Pompeo — a former congressman from Kansas — fare better than Secretary Tillerson? Well, the way I see it, the bar has been set so low with the Trump-Tillerson non-relationship that it cannot possibly be much worse.

Now POTUS welcomes talks with North Korea

Donald J. Trump is all over the pea patch regarding North Korea.

The president a few weeks ago tweeted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was wasting his time seeking a direct meeting with North Koreans regarding that country’s threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States and South Korea.

Oh, but while visiting South Korea this week, the president has let it be known that he would be willing to talk to North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un.

Which is it, Mr. President?

Frankly, I welcome the second overture far more than the first one.

Trump did offer some tough rhetoric during a speech this week to the South Korean parliament, warning the North about “underestimating” the United States. He told Kim that his efforts to bolster his nuclear arsenal put his regime in “grave danger.”

That all might be so much bluster and bravado if negotiation remains somewhere on the large table of options.

I continue to believe, as many others have said publicly, that there is no “good” military option in seeking to “de-nuclearize” the Korean Peninsula. A diplomatic solution is the only sensible path.

My strongest hope is that the president is going to lead the nation down that path, rather than the one that is fraught with grave danger for the entire planet.

Settled: Rex T called Trump a ‘moron’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been given more chances than he likely cares to count to take back a news report that he called Donald John Trump a “bleeping moron.”

Tillerson keeps clamming up. He did it again today on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He won’t engage in “petty” matters. Let’s move on, Tillerson said.

OK, then. The more he refuses to take back what NBC News reported he said the more it becomes clear: Tillerson called the president a “moron.”

The men reportedly have a testy relationship, which is a difficult circumstance, given the state of the world these days. North Korea is threatening to blow up South Korea; the Middle East remains a powder keg with several fuses lit; those pesky Russians keep hacking into other countries’ electoral systems, just as they did ours in 2016.

Tillerson made some appearances today on the news talk shows to say he’s still on the job, he’s still offering Trump his opinions on this and that, and that he intends to keep serving the president.

My question always arises when Donald Trump is involved: How much longer can someone like Tillerson, himself a big-time business mogul before entering public service, continue to work at the pleasure of someone who doesn’t have a clue about how to govern the world’s greatest nation?

Tillerson has exactly distinguished himself as secretary of state. Then again, he hasn’t been given a chance to put his stamp on the nation’s diplomatic strategy. The chaos continues within the Trump administration — and it’s all a direct reflection of the man who calls the shots.

As Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., points out so, um, graphically: You can’t “publicly castrate” a secretary of state. Tillerson insists that he remains “fully intact.”

We’ll see.

Who likes being called a ‘moron’?

I hereby intend to give Donald J. Trump the benefit of the doubt.

It’s a slight benefit. It’s not huge. I’ll give it to him nevertheless.

The president of the United States seems destined to part company with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The two men haven’t meshed. They didn’t know each other before Trump picked Tillerson to become the nation’s top diplomat.

If he fires Tillerson, I can understand why he would do such a thing. No one likes to be called a “moron,” which Tillerson reportedly did this summer in a meeting at the Pentagon.

I wouldn’t like being called such a thing. No one ever has called me a “moron,” at least to the best of my knowledge. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many colleagues over 37 years as a working stiff in daily journalism. Some or perhaps many of them might have thought of me as a moron; they never blurted it out loud as Tillerson did … allegedly.

Trump-Tillerson furor heats up

Have I worked for any morons? Oh, you bet I have. However, I’ve usually avoided saying it aloud to where the object of my scorn might hear about it. Trump certainly has heard about Tillerson’s insulting remark. He reportedly is furious with Tillerson.

Now, having said all this about Trump and giving him the benefit of the doubt, I need to comment briefly on the supreme irony contained in this tempest.

Trump has hurled many insults as a private business mogul and as a politician. They have been hurtful. They have caused pain. They have been vicious. They run counter to the Golden Rule that Scripture tells us to follow, the one about doing “unto others as you have them do unto you.”

The difference, though, is that Trump didn’t insult his bosses. He’s usually been the “boss” in private life and now, quite obviously, in this new job he occupies as head of state.

Still, I am thinking about the cliché we’ve often heard about “being able to dish it out but not being able to take it.” Still, no one — especially Donald Trump — likes being called a “moron,” even if the epithet contains more than a nugget of truth.

Now it’s Rex vs. the ‘Moron’

If you sit in the quietest room you can find, take very shallow breaths and don’t move a muscle, you just might be able to hear the “tick, tick, tick” of a clock.

It would be a device that is ticking down the time that Rex Tillerson has remaining as the country’s secretary of state.

The nation’s top diplomat reportedly thinks his boss, the president, is a “moron.” He said as much in a Pentagon meeting this past summer. He reportedly cannot fathom why Donald J. Trump says and does certain things.

Then, when given a chance today to disavow what NBC News has reported about the “moron” comment, he didn’t do so. He said only that he doesn’t discuss “petty things.” Tillerson said he won’t go there.

He made no denial. He didn’t declare that he believes the president is a genius. No. The “moron” comment stands.

How does any president of the United States — let alone one named Trump — handle this? How should he handle it?

If I were a betting man, I would guess that Rex Tillerson has just written his exit interview from the Department of State.

One can argue all day and half the night into whether Tillerson has done a good job at State. However, I feel quite confident that a lot of Americans way out here past the D.C. Beltway believe as he reportedly does about the president of the United States.

Tillerson takes high road on ‘moron’ question

Rex Tillerson seems to be well-suited to fill the role of America’s top diplomat.

The secretary of state today held a quickie news conference to dispel what had been reported about his alleged desire to quit his high office.

Then came a most interesting response to a direct question from one of the reporters present.

Did you call the president a “moron” earlier this year? came the question. That’s pretty direct, yes?

Tillerson, though, responded with a recitation of how he won’t get involved in “petty” topics. He said such pettiness is one of the problems with Washington, D.C. “I am not from here,” he said. So, he won’t concern himself with such a trivial question, Tillerson said.

Hmmm. My interpretation of his non-answer to a direct question? Yep. He called the president of the United States a “moron.”

Who’s he calling a ‘moron’?

Well now, that’s as clear as mud. Isn’t it?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly was so mad at the president of the United States that he threatened to quit. In July, media outlets have reported, he referred to Donald J. Trump as a “moron.”

Today, though, the secretary of state stood before reporters to say (a) that he never considered quitting and (b) that he doesn’t deal in “petty” matters, such as name-calling.

Yet another Trump mystery emerges

So, which is it? Did he threaten to quit or not? And did he call the president a “moron”?

According to Politico: NBC News reported Wednesday that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon last July with members of the president’s national security team. Citing multiple unnamed sources, the network reported that the secretary of state was close to resigning in the wake of the president’s controversial, political speech at a Boy Scouts of America jamboree and only remained in his job after discussions with Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials.

Tillerson, by the way, once led the Boy Scouts of America, which I guess means he took the president’s quite inappropriate remarks — which were full of politically charged rhetoric — so very personally.

Trump recently undercut Tillerson, who is trying to negotiate some sort of agreement with North Korea over its nuclear missile program, to quit “wasting your time” by talking to the North Koreans. That bit of diplomatic sabotage reportedly heightened tensions between the men who, I should add, had never met before Trump appointed Tillerson to become the nation’s top diplomat.

Chaos … anyone?

Trump humiliates Tillerson

You’re the secretary of state, the top diplomat for the United States of America.

You are involved in discussions with officials from another great power, China, about what to do about North Korea and its desire to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal. Then you let it be known that you’ve opened “direct line” to North Korea.

That’s progress — yes? — in this game of diplomatic chicken we’ve been playing with the reclusive and dangerous communist regime in North Korea.

Then the president of the United States — your boss — fires off some tweets that says you’re “wasting your time” in seeking talks with North Korea.

Trump declared in a tweet that the United States is keeping its military options open. The president said: “Save your energy, Rex, we’ll do what has to be done.” Huh? What the … ?

There you have it. The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has undermined once again the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. He has blistered his top diplomat publicly for seeking a constructive solution to a growing crisis that has no realistic military solution.

What’s the upshot of this? According to the Washington Post: “Humiliating for Tillerson, but worse, renders him useless. He’ll resign, today or after a brief face-saving interval,” predicted former Obama administration ambassador and National Security Council official Dan Shapiro, one of many foreign policy experts who tweeted about Trump’s Sunday comments, sent from his New Jersey golf club.

Read more from the Post here.

Should the secretary of state quit over this latest insult? You know, if it were me — and I’m just speaking for myself — I cannot imagine how Secretary Tillerson can tolerate this kind of continuing public humiliation from the president of the United States.

Hoping that Hillary calls it a career

Hillary Rodham Clinton is beginning to resurface.

Her book is out, the one that “explains” why she lost a presidential election she should have won. I’ll stipulate that I haven’t read “What Happened.” I have every intention of doing so. I’m curious as to what this candidate who should have been elected in 2016 says about her stunning election loss.

I’ll simply fall back to a position I took not long after Donald J. Trump got elected president of the United States.

My hope for the Democratic Party is that they find a fresh face, a novice to the national political stage, a rookie to run against whomever the Republicans nominate for president in 2020.

It shouldn’t be Hillary Clinton. And if the Republican Party honchos were to ask for my opinion, I’d say they shouldn’t renominate the incumbent president. Hey, I just told ’em that very thing. Imagine that!

Hillary will lay a lot of blame on FBI Director James Comey and his strange reopening of the e-mail probe late in the campaign. She’ll blame the Russians for hacking into our electoral system. She will blame the media for the way they covered her campaign. Sure, she also is going to take a lot of the blame herself.

From where I sit out here in Flyover Country, it’s that last element that deserves the bulk of the cause for her stunning loss.

Clinton was a lousy candidate. She spent too much time down the stretch in states she had no prayer of winning and too little time in those battleground states that flipped from supporting Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 to backing Trump.

Yes, I also believe in that malady called Clinton Fatigue. We had two terms of her husband, President Bill Clinton; and along the way, we got a big dose of first lady Hillary Clinton, too. Do you recall when candidate Bill told us in 1992 if we elect him, we’d get her as well in a sort of two-for-one deal?

She ran for the U.S. Senate in 2000 as she and her husband were to leave the White House and she served her new home state of New York with competence and some level of distinction.

She challenged Sen. Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and took him to the wire. The new president’s payback was to appoint her secretary of state, a post she held for Obama’s first term.

Clinton won the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination believing the election was hers for the taking. She wasn’t alone. I was among the millions of pseudo-experts who thought she’d win in a record-setting landslide. I’ve been eating crow ever since.

Her time has come and gone. She’s yesterday’s heroine.

I do not want her to run again. She had my support once already. I’m not sure I can back her a second time.

Her book is likely to produce some interesting reading. That is it. However, the future of her political party, I believe, belongs to someone who’s going to emerge from nowhere.