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The Madness of King Donald

March 13, 2018


The day before he was fired as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson discovered he still had balls, even if somewhat atrophied after a year of drinking the Trump Kool-Aid. Speaking of the nerve gas poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England, Tillerson echoed the condemnation of Russia made by PM Theresa May calling the attack “a really egregious act” and then added the most forceful criticism of Moscow ever delivered by anyone in the Trump administration: “From Ukraine to Syria—and now the UK—Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.” The next morning Trump fired him in a tweet.

As reported in The New Yorker, there are conflicting stories about exactly when and how Tillerson was informed that he was getting the axe, and there have been reports since late last year that he would be leaving his post at State early in 2018. But the timing of Tillerson’s statement and his firing certainly doesn’t look coincidental, particularly coming on the heels of the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee’s bogus “report” exonerating Trump and his campaign of any collusion with Russia–a conclusion hotly disputed by the Democrat minority on the committee. If nothing else, it shows that Trump simply doesn’t care about how it all looks because he thinks he’s untouchable.

Tillerson was a terrible Secretary of State, certainly the worst in my lifetime. [Full disclosure: my career at State spanned the tenure of secretaries from Henry Kissinger to Condoleeza Rice.] He leaves a once-elite department that under his “leadership” has been deliberately hollowed out and left to sink into rudderless despair. I thought morale was at rock bottom during the George W. Bush administration, but that was nothing compared to the miasma permeating the department now.

And yet, amazingly. Tillerson actually almost looks sort of good in comparison with the other wrecking balls that Trump picked to head other federal agencies. At least he acted as something of a brake on Trump’s ignorant impulsiveness on such issues as the Iran nuclear deal, relations with our NATO allies, North Korea, and tariffs on major US trading partners. The brake wasn’t always effective, but at least it was there.

There will be no tears shed in Foggy Bottom over Tillerson’s departure, but there will be a deep sense of foreboding about what Trump (and Koch) loyalist Mike Pompeo will bring. It’s a lot easier to kick around the State Department than the CIA.

So just in the last week, Gary Cohn is gone, and now Rex Tillerson. And the Washington Post reports that a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has resigned over what he described as “false” and “misleading” statements made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and ICE acting director Thomas D. Homan. The destruction of the American government continues apace.

The moral of the story: Whatever else you do, don’t talk shit about Putin.



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