A bro­ken re­la­tion­ship with Trump

The Week (US) - - News 17 -

It’s nor­mal for a pres­i­dent and his sec­re­tary of state to ex­pe­ri­ence “some fric­tion,” said The Econ­o­mist in an ed­i­to­rial. Colin Pow­ell was frus­trated that he “never had the ear of Ge­orge W. Bush”; John Kerry dis­liked Barack Obama’s mi­cro­man­age­ment of for­eign pol­icy. “But there is noth­ing nor­mal about the way Don­ald Trump has pub­licly scorned his sec­re­tary of state, Rex Tiller­son”—or the toxic low to which their re­la­tion­ship has de­te­ri­o­rated. After Trump tweeted that Tiller­son was “wast­ing his time” by try­ing to en­gage with North Korea, NBC News re­ported that the for­mer Exxon CEO al­most quit in dis­gust this sum­mer and had de­scribed Trump as “a f---ing mo­ron” to a room full of ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials. En­raged that Tiller­son re­fused to di­rectly deny he had used the M-word, a fu­ri­ous Trump this week chal­lenged his own sec­re­tary of state to a bat­tle of the brains. “I guess we’ll have to com­pare IQ tests,” said Trump. “And I can tell you who is go­ing to win.”

Tiller­son should quit now, “and in a very public way,” said Ju­lian Zelizer in CNN.com. He needs to take “a prin­ci­pled stand” and pres­sure con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to rec­og­nize that Trump is sab­o­tag­ing U.S. diplo­macy and for­eign pol­icy, so they will in­ter­vene as they did when they passed new sanc­tions against Rus­sia. Tiller­son would be do­ing ev­ery­one a fa­vor he if re­signed, said Rich Lowry in Politico.com. The oil ex­ec­u­tive ar­rived at Foggy Bot­tom with­out a “wellde­vel­oped world­view” and has “barely staffed his own depart­ment,” leav­ing cru­cial posts un­filled, in­clud­ing am­bas­sador to South Korea. He should make way for some­one “bet­ter suited to the role.”

Tiller­son’s res­ig­na­tion “wouldn’t fix any­thing,” said Daniel Lari­son in TheAmer­i­canCon­ser­va­tive .com. Trump’s aides re­port­edly want “Mr. Exxon,” as the pres­i­dent has taken to sar­cas­ti­cally call­ing Tiller­son, to see out the rest of 2017 in a show of sta­bil­ity and then step down so that his job can be filled by ei­ther CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo or U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley. But both of those re­place­ments “would con­front the same prob­lem”: a pres­i­dent who thinks all diplo­macy is “weak” and who is prone to lob­bing “ran­dom out­bursts and threats” at other na­tions when­ever he wants. The “adults” in Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion have failed in their ef­forts to save him from his worst im­pulses, “and noth­ing will be im­proved by swap­ping one of them out.”

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