Trump’s Craven Courtiers

By Eliot A. Cohen

In the end, the only one surprised to discover a presidential shiv protruding from Rex Tillerson’s back was the man himself. He was abruptly dismissed from office on March 13, but some observers had seen it coming months ago. One could not even say of him what Shakespeare’s Malcolm says to King Duncan about the death of a treacherous vassal, “Nothing in his life / Became him like the leaving it.” Rex was not the most loyal of President Donald Trump’s subjects, to be sure, but he is a decent man of real accomplishment, fatally miscast as secretary of state. His end was ignominious, and his rendering of his meager accomplishments in his final press conference was marred by evident and understandable distress. It was a squalid episode.

But like Malcolm—who gains the throne over the corpses of both Duncan and the usurper Macbeth—we may note that the manner of Tillerson’s exit from Washington life is more interesting and instructive than what he did there, or the fact of his firing. Given that he never denied calling the president a moron, that he had been shut out of the most important diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East and Asia, and that he had embarked on a completely unnecessary wrecking of his own department, his firing was no surprise. Yet the manner of his dismissal is important.

It puts the lie, for example, to those who say, “Don’t pay attention to the tweets.” Firing the senior member of the Cabinet is a consequential act, and it was done by tweet. Every one of those poorly spelled and erratically capitalized micro-eruptions is a presidential statement, and they lead to real outcomes. John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, told Tillerson over the previous weekend to expect a tweet, the Associated Press reported—a vaguely …read more

Via:: The Atlantic


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