Well, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t seamless. It wouldn’t have made it through a filibuster if such still applied.
But the deal is done. With 56 votes in his favor (because we apparently have a lot of #RESIST Democrats) Rex Tillerson is confirmed as Donald Trump’s Secretary of State. (New York Times)
Rex W. Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday in a 56 to 43 vote to become the nation’s 69th secretary of state just as serious strains have emerged with important international allies.
The many votes against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation made his selection among the most contentious for a secretary of state in recent history, and he takes his post just as many traditional American allies are questioning the policies of President Trump. In the past 50 years, the most contentious confirmations for secretary of state were those of Condoleezza Rice in 2005, who passed by a vote of 85 to 13, and Henry Kissinger in 1973, who was confirmed 78 to 7.
Tillerson earned the backing of all the Republicans, plus Democrats Mark Warner, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin. (I’ll leave you to take a wild guess as to why they joined in.) He also got a thumbs up from independent Senator Angus King of Maine.
My prayers are with Rex Tillerson because he’s got a very turbulent world out there to deal with and he’ll be tasked with the job of reforming the world’s view of the United States after eight years under Barack Obama. Relations with other major powers including Russia and China are currently on a knife edge, particularly in the case of the latter. I’ve already expressed some reservations about how things will work out with Turkey, particularly as that nation dips steadily into tyranny while their president holds on to a critical military and geopolitical position.
He’ll get a warm reception in Israel to be sure, but their neighbors will be wary and watching what we do closely. I don’t expect him to produce peace there, but rather to help keep a lid on the situation while reaffirming America’s support of Israel.
There’s much rebuilding to do in terms of our status as a superpower and global leader, not just militarily, but as a beacon of democracy and freedom. It’s a big job, and we should all hope that Donald Trump has picked the right man for the task. Best of luck to you, Secretary Tillerson.