Tag Archives: State Department

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.

Hoping for a lengthy stay for Tillerson

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.”

Damn!

Tillerson exhibited some much-needed sanity, maturity and intelligence in that moment. The nation needs more of it.

POTUS ‘speaks for himself’

Those who like to parse the words that come from public officials have been handed a serious bit of homework to ponder.

It comes from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who offered up a potentially provocative assertion on a Sunday news/talk show.

Tillerson was interviewed by “Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace and the discussion turned to the Charlottesville, Va., riot and Donald J. Trump’s various responses to the tragic event.

According to Politico: “Tillerson said Sunday that the nation’s commitment to combating discrimination should be without question.

“’We express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people, we represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over and that message has never changed,’ Tillerson said. ‘I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.’”

Wallace then asked: “And the president’s values?” To which Tillerson answered: “The president speaks for himself, Chris.”

“Are you separating yourself from that, sir?” Wallace asked.

“I’ve spoken — I’ve made my own comments as to our values as well in a speech I gave to the State Department this past week,” Tillerson said.

Well …

If I were a betting man — and if I were in the business of reading someone’s mind — I might suggest that the secretary of state has just put some distance between himself and the tirade that poured forth from the president of the United States with regard to Charlottesville.

I also might wonder if the clock has just started ticking on Tillerson’s tenure at the State Department.

Tillerson gets tossed under the bus … but why?

Rex Tillerson deserves a good word for sounding like a serious adult.

The U.S. secretary of state has declared that Americans should “sleep well at night,” even in the wake of the bellicosity coming from the North Korean dictator and the president of the United States.

What does he get from a member of Donald Trump’s national security team? Sebastian Gorka, a key member of the National Security Council, said that Tillerson is a diplomat and has no authority to talk about military matters.

There you go. A key NSC adviser tosses Tillerson under the bus. For what reason? For suggesting that the North Koreans aren’t about to launch missiles at the United States or that the United States is about to go to war with the rogue regime.

I tend to think of Tillerson as one of the grownups with whom the president has surrounded himself.

Gorka, on the other hand, provides another bullying voice for the president, as if Donald Trump needs any assistance in rattling nerves around the world. The president has done plenty of that all by himself with his “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” rhetoric.

As for Tillerson, I’m going to presume he’s opened all the back channels he can find between Washington and Pyongyang. Perhaps he’s able to pass along to some North Korean functionary about the grave danger that can result from a foolish act of aggression.