If you were predicting this choice (assuming this is real, but more on that below) more than two weeks ago you should either be up for some sort of prestigious award in journalism or you really need to open up your own psychic detective agency. NBC News broke it initially but every other outlet seems to have bitten on the story. If this bears out, the Secretary of State nominee will be the CEO of Exxon Mobil. (The Hill)
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of State, NBC News reported Saturday.
Tillerson had reportedly jumped to the front of the pack of candidates in recent days, despite not being mentioned on shortlists as recently as last week.
Critics have already called into question Tillerson’s ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Before we even get to Tillerson, his background and any hurdles he might face, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Look, I’m not saying that Tillerson isn’t going to be the pick. Maybe he is and the “source” they are citing has it right. I’m just saying that Trump told us himself on many occasions when the media speculation food fights got out of hand that you’ll know the decision when he tells you. People in his circle have commented on the sometimes lengthy and twisted decision making process The Donald goes through. There may have been times when he finished talking through a decision with somebody and they came away with the honest opinion that he’d reached a decision and leaked it out. Then, later that night, Trump might be letting it marinate and arrive at a totally different call. Personally I’ll believe it when I hear it coming down from Trump Tower.
But for now, let’s say it’s Tillerson. Given our colleague Allahpundit’s long and, shall we say complicated relationship with one of the expected finalists, I should at least let him get in an early word here.
We did not sit through an entire season of “The Apprentice: State Department” to see Rex Tillerson picked. Romney or Bolton.
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) December 10, 2016
So with that out of the way, what if the story is true? I know there are complaints already percolating about the fact that he’s done business with Moscow in general and Putin in particular. Come on, man. This is Exxon. The guy has done business with everyone. By that logic none of the major CEOs are qualified for anything in government. (And yes, I realize there are plenty of Democrats who probably have that exact phrase tattooed on their bodies someplace.)
But should a CEO from that line of work be the nation’s top diplomat? At first glance I’d wonder about it myself. If you wanted to put him in charge of Energy, sure. If you wanted to put the CEO of Boeing in charge of Transportation, go for it. For Interior you might pick the CEO of, I don’t know… Dick’s Sporting Goods? But really, what is diplomacy but the ability to sit down with leaders and representatives of other nations, manage to not offend them unless they really deserve it and cut deals? Sounds like something that Tillerson has been doing for a long time. In the end it all comes down to personality, judgement and temperament, and frankly I know nothing about this guy’s traits in that department. He’s clearly impressed some of Trump’s inner circle already. Giuliani was talking about him as a serious contender even back when he seemed to think he’d be getting the job himself.
Seems like we could have done better with a more known quantity, but in the end the Secretary of State is the one who will have to take Trump’s message and vision forward to the rest of the world, frequently in person. It’s got to be somebody he’s comfortable with in that role. If this is actually the pick, then he must think Tillerson can handle the job. I’m just not seeing anything disqualifying here, even if he might not have been my first choice.