When you give a job to someone who says he doesn’t want it, the first thing you should expect is that he will do a miserable job. On that front, Rex Tillerson is certainly living up to expectations.
Tillerson says he was content to retire on his modest $180 million golden parachute and live the simple life on his modest equestrian estate. But then Donald Trump called him to serve his nation, and Tillerson issued this stirring response.
“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job,” Tillerson told the Independent Journal Review in an interview during his recent Asia trip.
Yeah, huh. That level of enthusiasm is reflected in Tillerson’s plans to skip a key meeting of NATO foreign ministers, giving up without even trying on the idea of diplomacy with North Korea, and skipping the State Department’s release of the critical annual human rights report.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chose not to hold the traditional press conference that has accompanied the release of the report for decades across both Democratic and Republican administrations.
It was the first time in the over 40 year history of the report that the Secretary of State was available, but couldn’t be bothered to present the information. But then, Tillerson couldn’t be bothered to have any press conferences or public presentations. He also didn’t allow that bothersome press to come along on his first overseas trip.
Rex Tillerson has defended his decision to block American reporters from his first major mission to Asia, saying: “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it.”
Sure. Because access of the public and insight into the government by the governed is not a concern of Tillerson. The job of Secretary of State is expressly to be America’s representative to the world, but what Tillerson represents is someone with no interest in human rights, no interest in our strategic alliances, and absolute disdain for both the people he’s supposed to be serving and the role he is supposed to play.
The degradation of the US position on human rights in such a short time is especially disturbing. Not only did the State Department all but ignore it’s own report—the release of which has literally been televised around the world—but the US failure to participate in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in unprecedented.
The United States has pulled its participation from hearings planned for today by a regional human rights body that has enjoyed the support of every U.S. administration since its founding.
Tillerson doesn’t even care enough to staff his own office.
Tillerson also has failed to fill numerous vacant leadership positions at the State Department, including undersecretaries and assistant secretaries. Such staffers are key to coordinating with foreign capitals and the White House, including on scheduling. They can help avoid dust-ups such as the one facing Tillerson over the NATO ministerial. And they can be especially helpful in situations involving a country such as China, which places tremendous importance on protocol and would view Tillerson’s absence from the presidents’ meeting as a sign that he lacks influence.
That could be because he lacks influence. Despite tossing a few words of support toward Tillerson, there’s no reason to believe that Trump cares one whit about the position. In fact, Trump views the whole State Department with disdain and believes the diplomatic corps are full of Hillary supporters ready to leak any information that comes their way. It’s an attitude reflected in the massive chop he gave to the department’s budget.
Tillerson is convinced that diplomacy hasn’t worked, and Trump convinced it can’t work. That’s why he’s ordering up all those new bombs, boats, and planes. He expects to use them.