Monday, August 07, 2017

Clown Car Posse: Tillerson

There is no doubt that Trump has staffed his cabinet with a lot of incompetent toadies and bozos, but Rex Tillerson wasn't supposed to be one of them. Unfortunately, though, his performance at the State Department is not getting very good reviews.

Several times a week the State Department sends a greeting to a foreign country on the occasion of its national day. By tradition, the salutations have been written by low-level diplomats and routinely approved by their superiors.

But not anymore.

Now the messages go through Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s office, where his top assistants insist on vetting them, and where they often sit for weeks before coming back with extensive editing changes, according to several department officials. To these officials, it is a classic case of micromanagement — and emblematic of the way Mr. Tillerson has approached running the State Department.

Introduced by President Trump as a “world-class player” when he nominated him, Mr. Tillerson had never worked in government. But as the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, he brought to the State Department the kind of managerial experience shared by predecessors like George P. Shultz, who had been president of Bechtel, the giant engineering company, and George Marshall, a five-star Army general once described by Winston Churchill as “the organizer of victory” in World War II.

Even skeptics of Mr. Tillerson’s foreign policy credentials thought the State Department, an agency of 75,000 employees, could use some of the management skills he had picked up as the head of a major corporation. Mr. Tillerson was supposed to know that leaders of large organizations should quickly pick a trusted team, focus on big issues, delegate small ones and ask for help from staff members when needed.

He has done none of those things, his critics contend.

Instead, he has failed to nominate anyone to most of the department’s 38 highest-ranking jobs, leaving many critical departments without direction, while working with a few personal aides reviewing many of the ways the department has operated for decades rather than developing a coherent foreign policy.

My impression: he looks really old for a guy of 65, more like somebody ten years older. I wonder if he has the stamina for the job.