The list of potential candidates for secretary of state in the Trump administration is so long that it may be easier to name the people not considered. Early riders on the Trump train like Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich got their chance to make a pitch, but once they were dismissed Trump went on a journey that included moments of “hey, that almost seems reasonable” like Mitt Romney, “hey that sounds horrible” like screaming walrus John Bolton, and “hey, he’s got a parole officer” with yet another general in the form of David Petraeus. Perennial reasonable Republican and former U.S. ambassador to China, John Huntsman, stopped by. So did senators from the right, like Bob Corker, and from the right, like Joe Manchin.
What was the one thing all of these people had in common? They could all make a pretense of at least having some relevant experience and understanding for the position. Naturally, that meant that none of them could be allowed to take the post. Even though a week ago the selection was supposedly down to a handful minus the thumb, a new name suddenly popped up—ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
Trump's cabinet picks have been uniformly awful and patently ridiculous, with many of his selections made for no other reason than to offend as many as possible and continue Trump’s Gish Galloping campaign. Tillerson certainly meets that criteria.
Among the worst, the most preposterous, contenders is ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson. How did he even get on Trump’s list?
That’s an excellent question, actually. There doesn’t seem to be any history between Trump and Tillerson. He’s a man who has worked at exactly one company in his entire life and who has zero experience with either diplomacy or even with any business other than oil.
Where did Tillerson come from, and why is he suddenly the only name on Trump’s short list?
There’s a clear enough theory behind the choice:
Friends and associates said few U.S. citizens are closer to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin than Mr. Tillerson, who has known Mr. Putin since he represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during the regime of Boris Yeltsin.
“He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,” said John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration and president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank where Mr. Tillerson is a board member.
Trump keeps insisting that Tillerson’s experience with Russia is a good thing. Except … what is Tillerson’s experience in dealing with China? Or Israel? How’s his deal making on anything but oil and gas? Tillerson is a piano with exactly one note. Big. Oil. Deal. With. Putin. And his consideration as secretary of state isn’t simply the kind of “$!@k you, rationality!” statement that Trump has issued with other choices.
His emergence as a candidate to be the nation’s top diplomat despite having no government experience surprised senior Exxon officials—including Mr. Tillerson, according to people familiar with the matter. ...
His appointment would introduce the potential for sticky conflicts of interest because of his financial stake in Exxon, which explores for oil and gas on six of the world’s seven continents and has operations in more than 50 countries. He owns Exxon shares worth $151 million, according a recent securities filing.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that, in the case of secretary of state, all of Trump’s feints to the right, more right, and alt right were just camouflage for a choice that makes no sense for traditional purposes, but makes perfect sense for one very singular purpose.
How did he even get on Trump’s list? One theory is ... that Trump and national security adviser-designee Mike Flynn’s Russia-toadying is at work here.
The white nationalist symbol may be a frog, but with Donald Trump, count on the toadying.