When Donald Trump gave former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the keys to the Secretary of State Department, most of Trump’s adversaries had a successful political mocking field day. Tillerson is a wealthy businessman, but he is not part of the Republican establishment. But he’s not an outsider either. He’s a guy who knows how to deal with foreign leaders and a guy who knows how to make Putin smile. Some Democrats say Tillerson does not want to drain the swamp as much as he wants to swim in it. Being Secretary of State is another golden ring for Tillerson. He has a lot of them because, when all is said and done, Rex is a competent manager. And Rex has more experiences than any of the State Department Secretaries before him.
But things are not going well in the State Department on Tillerson’s watch. Rumors he was resigning surfaced in July, and then a report he was taking time off after the G20 summit put question marks in the minds of many political insiders. The press was shouting “Rexit,” and the word on the street was Tillerson was not a happy Washington camper for a number of reasons. The main reason, according to some department insiders is, Rex is not a fan of Trump’s foreign policy performance. And being in charge of a State Department operating with empty positions is not a cakewalk. People say Tillerson is feeling the pressure. In his first visit to the State Department’s press room, Rex gave state officials praise, and he was quick to say how busy he was. But the Tillerson State Department has the lowest profile in recent political history, according to foreignpolicy.com.
Tillerson is winning the title of the most invisible member of the Trump administration. Tillerson’s strategy may be the long game, but the short game is turning into a disaster, according to the foreignpolicy.com article. But his slow start may be the best road in an administration that is over-the-top in drama and shortcomings.
In the early days of the Trump administration, Trump and Tillerson were dinner buddies, but the pair are sparring buddies these days. Trump likes to talk about his generals, but Tillerson is not part of Trump’s band of competent soldiers. Rex does not have many fans in Congress, and Trump has other fish to fry before he focuses on Tillerson. But Tillerson may not be belly-flopping in the Trump administration. He may take his time and build a better functioning State Department. And he has to be under Trump’s tweeting radar to do that.