Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's job gets more impossible with each passing day.EXPAND
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's job gets more impossible with each passing day.

Henry Rollins: What Are the Odds Rex Tillerson Lasts Another Week?

It must be interesting and awful to be Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He left the comfy environs of ExxonMobil to serve his country only to get blindsided on a regular basis by his boss, the president. Sad!

In some photos, Tillerson looks so defeated that his face seems to be sliding off his skull. He understands that the situation with North Korea, which has never been great, is deteriorating rapidly as it ferments and pressurizes. Eventually an insult will go too far, or an exercise will be seen as a provocation that must be addressed, and off it jumps.

Trump’s confidence in America’s missile systems to neutralize a nuclear attack, as he stated earlier in the month to his sycophant Sean Hannity, is wildly misguided: “We have missiles that can knock out a missile in the air 97 percent of the time, and if you send two of them, it’s going to get knocked down.”

That is simply not true, not even close. That a sitting president would put that glaringly incorrect information out for millions to hear is beyond irresponsible. If Trump were smarter, it would be a lie, but for him, it’s just another bullshit-infused exhalation.

In the history of the United States, there has never been a president as mindlessly reckless as Trump. He tosses off amateur insults at the unstable leader of a potentially nuclear strike–capable country. One of the many problems with this, which no one will ever be able to make Trump understand, is that Kim Jong-un regards Trump’s bellicose, unfocused taunts as very real threats to his leadership position.

The two have more in common than is healthy. One of their many similarities is that neither can grasp the complexities of a dynamic situation. Both operate in a black/white world. The real world is much more nuanced. This is why Trump’s minority fan base sees him as a buck-stops-here guy and President Obama as an appeaser and enemy of America.

What makes Kim and Trump different is that one is punching up and the other is punching down. Kim feels backed into a corner. He’s running out of ways to show his people that he’s to be respected and feared. When you call him Little Rocket Man, you strip him of options to save face.

While Kim’s conduct is not to be condoned, when Trump boxes him in with eighth-grade schoolyard barbs and “fire and fury,” Tillerson’s job goes from already difficult to damn near impossible. Tillerson is a corporate megafuck, not a miracle worker.

Adding light and levity to Tillerson’s day is Trump’s refusal to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran. He’s done it twice before but now he can’t, because to do so would get in the way of the war he wants to have with Iran. That one won’t be anything like the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I wonder how he’ll pay for it.

Rex, are you going to stick around after the Christmas party and come back in next year? Perhaps you should split, so the “moron” can get Nikki Haley into your old position. From what she says at UN meetings, she’s spoiling for a fight much more than you seem to be.

Imagine if Trump had been president in October of 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis. There is a good chance you and I wouldn’t be here. Imagine what the Christmas bombing regimen over Hanoi would have been like had Trump been president in 1972. Find one major event in American history where the outcome would have been better if Trump was in charge. I can think of only one: If he were Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States, the Civil War would have been over much faster and perhaps with fewer casualties. As bad a leader as Davis was, Trump is worse.

The past 10 days of the Trump administration have been like roadkill in summer. Way over his head in a job he never wanted anyway, he can’t seem to get along with members of his own party or the rest of the world. Even bug-eyed Bannon doesn’t give him very good odds at getting to the end of his term.

As of last week, it’s called Trumpcare. Obamacare is over. All Republicans holding elected office should get with the program. Learn to defend it and get ready to tell their constituents that their lives will be getting better with all the freedom and choices they’ll be getting. No, really. Time to own Trumpcare as all Democrats had to own Obamacare.

Note to crackers: Elections have consequences. You got what you wanted, right? Your president has spent the entirety of 2017 trying to undo things the previous president has done. Trump has said repeatedly that he “inherited a mess.” The statistics prove that he didn’t. He’s creating one.

Listening to Trump suck up to attendees at the Values Voter Summit last week was vomit-inducing. “We don’t worship government. We worship God.” I would like to know when Donald Trump worshipped any god, what his most visited parts of the Bible are or how much time he spends in prayer. “The American family is the true bedrock of American life.” Family, a concept he likes so much, he started several.

But back to Secretary Tillerson’s perpetual frown. Chief of staff Kelly’s as well. Their expressions are a matched combination of exhaustion and frustration that makes you wonder how they’re going to get to the end of the week, much less 2017 or Trump’s first term. It’s how you look when your job is staying one step ahead of a man who’s incapable of doing his own.

Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.


More from the mind of Henry Rollins:
Make America Filthy, Hungry, Broke and Stupid Again
Ask Yourself What Side of History You Want to Be on
Don't Let the Trump Show Distract You From What's Really Going On

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >