There’s No Happy Ending for Rex Tillerson
A year ago, Rex Tillerson stood in the oval office and was sworn in as the 69th secretary of state. Since then, most of the talk has been about when he’ll leave. He got off to the worst start of any secretary of state in modern history — beginning by taking a job he didn’t really want for a boss he’d never met — enduring a cascade of stories about everything from his anemic management, troubles with the career diplomatic corps, hollowing out of the bureaucracy, and tensions with the White House. Although often considered one of the adults tempering the President’s nastiest instincts, Tillerson’s Washington obituary has been ready for a while.
Yet he’s still around. Instead of quitting (as was widely rumored he would last summer), or being fired and replaced by Mike Pompeo (as reportedly the White House has a plan on the shelf to do), Tillerson is hanging on. He’s finally filling top positions, including ones that caused highly contentious fights with the White House. He’s been hitting the road, constructively engaging with allies on thorny diplomatic problems like North Korea and Iran. And he’s been stepping out publicly, talking more to the press and giving the kinds of speeches we expect from a Secretary of State.