The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s press conference yesterday was moronic. Earlier this week, NBC News broke the story that Tillerson, exasperated by Donald Trump’s shenanigans, called him a `moron’ during a meeting in July at the Pentagon. It took the intervention of vice-president Mike Pence, in the role of Trump administration life coach, to counsel Tillerson to remain in his post. Now, months later, Tillerson appeared at the State Department, which he has been steadily working to denude of any remaining diplomats or civil servants, to engage in a self-rectification session, pledging his fealty to Trump as well as his devotion to making America great again.
Even Tillerson, however, was unable to pull off the full Road to Canossa. In what became something of a TrainRex, he could not bring himself to deny that he had called Trump rather challenged in the gray matter department. Instead, he adopted the expedient of deeming the question of whether he had made the opprobrious comment ‘petty stuff’ and said ‘I have never considered leaving this post.’ As Senator Bob Corker, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, sees it, Tillerson is a hero for gutting it out in the Trump administration. Corker, who is not running for reelection, deems Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis the only two figures holding back the prospect of utter ‘chaos’ in the White House.
For his part, Trump was ebullient. There was much to celebrate. The former oil man had submitted to his dominance. He tweeted, ‘The @NBCNews story has just been totally refuted by Sec. Tillerson and @VP Pence. It is #FakeNews. They should issue an apology to AMERICA!’ But the refutation was, of course, not total. If anything speaks for Tillerson, it is that he does in fact have a solid grasp on Trump’s lack of candlepower and, indeed, it now appears that he employed the adjective ‘fucking’ before moron.
In his press conference, however, Tillerson was careful to refer to Trump as ‘smart’. By heeding his master’s voice, Tillerson may have bought himself a few more months in office. But tensions are bound to mount between the two men—the temporary truce that Tillerson has negotiated is unlikely to turn into a permanent peace.
The biggest fib of Tillerson’s press conference, though, wasn’t his attempts to dance around his previous assessment of Trump. It was his declaration that everything is fine and dandy with the administration’s approach to foreign policy. He began his statement by lauding the administration’s successes in the Middle East, North Korea and Afghanistan. He observed, ‘our approach to South Asia, and specifically Afghanistan, means building upon our relationships with India and Pakistan to stamp out terrorism and support the Afghan Government in providing security for their own people’. As usual, Tillerson had nothing to offer other than empty bromides. He is the captain of a ghost ship.