“. . . The State Department did not invite the customary scrum of reporters, apparently hoping that Mr. Tillerson could continue to keep what has so far been a low profile.Mr. Tillerson relied on his acting deputy, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., a holdover from the Obama administration, to be his stand-in for the meetings this week with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and the lunch with ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak of Russia, who is entangled in the growing scandal that cost Michael T. Flynn his job as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser.”
““If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition,” Mr. Mattis said at the time. As one diplomat who has met frequently with Mr. Tillerson since he took office noted recently, “Rex clearly agrees with that. He just won’t say it.”(A senior State Department official said Mr. Tillerson did say it, to Mr. Trump, over dinner a little more than a week ago.)”
“Loyalty to President Trump seems to be more important than loyalty to the country. And for Elliott Abrams, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s pick to be his second-in-command, Abrambs’ disloyalty was too much for him to bear.More specifically, Abrams was critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential election.Abrams, who has decades of foreign policy experience working under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush (while Tillerson has none), was passed over as deputy secretary of state due to a critical editorial that Abrams wrote in May, according to a report by CNN on Friday.
One Republican source told CNN it was a case of “Donald Trump’s thin skin and nothing else,” while another commented that “this is a loss for the State Department and the country and, for that matter, for the president.” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner both pushed for Trump to overcome his hurt feelings and choose Abrams.”
“Many State Department officials believe that he has been inaccessible for far too long, cocooning himself with a small group of aides in a process that deprived him of hearing a broader range of views and policy options. Mr. Tillerson’s stumbles have been many, including statements that conflicted with other administration comments on Syria and Iran and initially failing to meet with employees who staff American embassies while he was on overseas trips.
Until the administration gets Senate confirmations of the political positions it decides to keep, professional diplomats and civil servants are filling the jobs on an acting basis. Mr. Tillerson said he has been pleased with their performance, even though temporary holdovers often don’t feel fully empowered and part of the decision-making.
Serving an inexperienced and erratic president requires Mr. Tillerson to spend time developing a close relationship with the White House. And while Congress seems likely to reject the dangerous budget cuts Mr. Trump envisions, it makes sense for a new secretary to evaluate whether the department’s structure is the one needed to respond to current challenges.”
What an interesting puzzle. Rex Tillerson is being chastised for not filling the 200 political appointees to the State Department. One has to note that many political appointees are not necessarily expert diplomats or foreign country historians. He might be forced to cut 33% of the workforce, and it appears that he is starting with the political appointees who have not worked in the Foreign Service for 25 or 30 years. I agree with the Times editorial, that Tillerson should fill the Undersecretary position. He put forward an excellent and experienced candidate, and the Trump Team nixed him, since the gentleman had criticized candidate Trump. This writer requests that the NYT cover carefully Tillerson’s State Department listening tour. I would like to know more about how many inside the State Department, and other nations around the world, really miss most of those 200 political appointees? Are we talking about the top experts from the leading Universities and think tanks in the US, or big political contributors?
(And I should have also added, one commentator reminded us that the State Department still has 24,000 full time employees to carry out the mission of the State Department.
It is possible that Tillerson is holding up most political appointees, to teach the Trump Team not to override his own appointments. He also has temporarily avoided filling his department with 200 political apppointees more loyal to the Trump Team than to him or the mission of the State Department.)
“Loyalty to President Trump seems to be more important than loyalty to the country. And for Elliott Abrams, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s pick to be his second-in-command, Abrambs’ disloyalty was too much for him to bear.More specifically, Abrams was critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential election.Abrams, who has decades of foreign policy experience working under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush (while Tillerson has none), was passed over as deputy secretary of state due to a critical editorial that Abrams wrote in May, according to a report by CNN on Friday.”
from my next post, from Salon.com
Here is a a comment I support:
As a long time civil servant at the Treasury Department it has been refreshing to have so few political appointees for the past few months. Most of the career civil servants who are acting in these positions have decades of relevant experience and are more qualified and capable than the politicals I’ve seen in the jobs in any previous administration. This administration will get much more active, and dangerous, as soon as these positions are filled. Be careful what you wish for.