Trump’s ar­ro­gant ax­ing of Tiller­son bad news for Canada too


Fir­ing one of your se­nior cab­i­net sec­re­taries via Twit­ter, as U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump al­legedly did Tues­day with his Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, is at least class­less. And prob­a­bly clue­less, too.

I of­ten ad­mire anti-es­tab­lish­ment lead­ers — Ron­ald Rea­gan, Mar­garet Thatcher, Ralph Klein, Mike Har­ris, Brad Wall. But Trump isn’t just anti-es­tab­lish­ment, he’s anti-in­tel­lect, too.

Trump does things de­lib­er­ately to pro­voke an over­re­ac­tion by his op­po­nents. And every­one — right, left and cen­tre — who doesn’t en­tirely agree with him he sees as an op­po­nent.

It was fun for a while to watch Democrats and lefty ac­tivists light their own hair on fire over Trump, then run around chaot­i­cally try­ing to put it out.

And to an ego­ist like Trump, ex­er­cis­ing the power to drive oth­ers crazy is prob­a­bly still a big thrill.

But even for those of us who like to see the es­tab­lish­ment shaken up ev­ery once in a while, Trump’s self-ab­sorbed act gets old. In a hurry.

When, for in­stance, Rea­gan took on the air traf­fic con­trollers and Thatcher chal­lenged the coal min­ers early in their ad­min­is­tra­tions, it wasn’t just to prove they were cock-ofthe-walk. It was to reestab­lish the cor­rect or­der of power in a democ­racy.

Elected of­fi­cials, who were ac­count­able to the peo­ple, are in charge of the gov­ern­ment, the civil ser­vice, the bud­get and the na­tion, not un­elected bu­reau­crats and their bud­dies in the unions.

But there were goals and a strat­egy.

Trump’s ac­tions al­ways seem de­signed merely to prove that Don­ald J. Trump is the boss man. Right or wrong, he’s in charge and ev­ery­body bet­ter ac­cept it.

He con­fuses real-life gov­ern­ing with be­ing the star of his own re­al­ity TV show where he can just say “you’re fired!”

Of course, as pres­i­dent, if he wants to fire his Sec­tary of State be­cause the sec­re­tary dis­agrees with him over trade pol­icy or over how to han­dle the Rus­sians, he is en­tirely within his au­thor­ity to do so.

It’s too bad for Canada (and most of the rest of the world), that Tiller­son is gone. Tiller­son was more of a free trader than Trump. Trump’s re­cent an­nounce­ment that Canada and Mex­ico will be ex­empt from U.S. steel and alu­minum tar­iffs, at least for now, was thought to be Tiller­son’s do­ing.

He talked his boss into not go­ing nu­clear with trade sanc­tions im­me­di­ately.

If Trump didn’t like Tiller­son’s pro-trade stance, if Trump pre­ferred a tougher Amer­ica First line, I would ar­gue Trump was wrong, but not that Trump lacked the au­thor­ity to do as he chose.

But re­ally, to fire a man of Tiller­son’s stature via Twit­ter, to not even have the cour­tesy to call him is not just class­less, it’s cowardly.

Oh sure, some will think it looks tough and all al­pha male.

And Trump him­self no doubt thinks this proves what a “bad hom­bre” he is.

But the man­ner in which he fired Tiller­son is all about how it makes Trump feel about Trump.

He is stroking his own ego, not mov­ing for­ward a rec­og­niz­able pol­icy ob­jec­tive.

He’s been a bully and a blowhard all his life be­cause he owned the com­pany. Now he’s try­ing to use that same ap­proach to run­ning a democ­racy. It won’t work. It can’t work. It shouldn’t work.

Pol­i­tics may be frus­trat­ing for the Trumpites out there. All the po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and plot­ting, com­pro­mis­ing and schem­ing.

A good anti-es­tab­lish­ment leader is needed every­one once in a to while make the es­tab­lish­ment pay at­ten­tion, again, to or­di­nary peo­ple and to rec­og­nize that in a democ­racy, the peo­ple are in charge, not the politi­cians and the lob­by­ists.

But Don­ald Trump isn’t in­ter­ested in the peo­ple be­ing in charge, he’s in­ter­ested in him­self be­ing in charge.

And that’s not anti-es­tab­lish­ment. It’s just ar­ro­gant.

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