Rex Tillerson is settling in as the Secretary of State. And how is one of the top government officials and the face of American diplomacy settling in at his new job? By taking a private elevator to his private office and generally avoiding all contact with career State Department professionals and their families:
Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact.
On his first three foreign trips, Tillerson skipped visits with State Department employees and their families, embassy stops that were standard morale-boosters under other secretaries of state.
Eight weeks into his tenure as President Trump’s top diplomat, the former ExxonMobil chief executive is isolated, walled off from the State Department’s corps of bureaucrats in Washington and around the world. His distant management style has created growing bewilderment among foreign officials who are struggling to understand where the United States stands on key issues. It has sown mistrust among career employees at State, who swap paranoid stories about Tillerson that often turn out to be untrue. And it threatens to undermine the power and reach of the State Department, which has been targeted for a 30 percent funding cut in Trump’s budget.
How utterly awful it must be for the career public servants at the State Department who’ve dedicated their lives to keeping us safe around the world. Now they have a boss who they can’t even make eye contact with or exchange a courtesy greeting, let alone discuss important matters of international relations and national security.
This is not normal. This is not okay. He might have been able to operate like this at ExxonMobil, doing shady, private deals and creating offshore, secretive accounts—but that’s not how the State Department operates. Not now, not ever. Thus far, Rex Tillerson’s time at the State Department has been a prime example of how business CEO’s aren’t always (or ever) the best option to run large government departments.