Outgoing Rex Tillerson is, by all accounts, a very likeable fellow, and no one wants to kick someone when he is down. But President Trump wisely fired him as secretary of state for having an outlook different from Trump’s, and from the agenda Trump was elected on.
We have “different mindsets,” Trump said about Tillerson, as a polite understatement. “We got along, actually, quite well, but we disagree on a lot of things.”
Indeed. Tillerson was the CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the largest multinational corporations in the world. No one could hold that position without being a globalist and he did not convert quickly enough to make America great again.
Tillerson was never on the same page as President Trump in standing up against, not with, the many parts of the world that are hostile to our sovereign interests. A supporter of phony free trade, Tillerson seemed more like the appeasement-type of secretary of state that we would expect if Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election.
It is not merely that Tillerson thought Obama’s sweetheart deal with Iran was “okay,” as Trump complained in announcing his termination of Tillerson. It was also that Tillerson would say and do things out-of-sync with what the America-First stance needs to be.
Tillerson was mistakenly trying to use diplomacy with the North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong-un while Trump was pursuing tougher measures. When Trump finally got Tillerson to stop groveling, the situation improved.
Even the media concedes that Tillerson’s departure will not hinder Trump’s highly effective handling of North Korea, which is all-Trump and contrary to Tillerson’s approach. If anything, a successful outcome of the North Korean crisis is more likely with Tillerson gone.
Given how often Tillerson disagreed during his confirmation hearing with Trump’s positions, it is surprising that Tillerson lasted as long as he did. In merely one day of testimony Tillerson disagreed with Trump about the harmful Trans-Pacific Partnership, Russian policies toward the Ukraine, so-called climate change, and the need for Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons.
President Trump indicated that the upcoming renegotiation of trade deals was a reason for his timing in letting Tillerson go now. Trump recently stood up against China by blocking the foreign takeover of Qualcomm, thereby signaling that American technology secrets are not for sale to foreign countries hostile to us.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has long been a much stronger Trump supporter than Tillerson ever was, will step in without the baggage of a globalist mindset. Pompeo brings a welcomed enthusiasm and focus that Tillerson unfortunately lacked.
“Tremendous energy, tremendous intellect, we’re always on the same wavelength,” Trump said about Pompeo after picking him. “The relationship has been very good, and that’s what I need as secretary of state.”
In addition to his stellar record of being first in his class in West Point and then serving in the Army, Pompeo has a strongly conservative track record as a congressman from Kansas. His positions include being outspokenly pro-life and taking many stances that fit hand-in-glove with those of Trump and the conservative movement.
Phyllis Schlafly praised the freshman congressman Pompeo in early 2011, for sponsoring a budget amendment that would have cut $8.5 million from the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Registry. She applauded how Pompeo observed that the registry would be “the very foundation of the EPA’s effort to pursue its radical anti-jobs agenda.”
Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo has been a leader in cracking down on terrorists from Muslim countries. When confronted with an alleged hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp for terrorists, Pompeo took it upon himself to personally visit the camp and quipped afterwards that it looked to him “like a lot of them have put on weight.”
For months it has been perceived that Tillerson, who is younger than Trump but appears older, has been unhappy in his position. He failed to fill key vacancies in his department despite being on the job for more than a year, and at key moments seemed to be in his home state of Texas rather than in D.C.
Trump was perceptive in his post-firing comments: “I think Rex will be much happier now, but I really appreciate his service.” With Mike Pompeo in charge at the State Department, Americans can be more confident that the interests of the United States will be foremost in any foreign policy decision-making.
It took a year, but we have finally arrived to the point of “let Trump be Trump,” reminiscent of the moment in 1984 when “let Reagan be Reagan” started to carry the day. President Trump is acting boldly on his instincts rather than being blocked and dissuaded by naysayers around him, and there is no limit to what he can achieve with this approach.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) whose 27th book, The Conservative Case for Trump, was published posthumously in 2016.