WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: (AFP OUT) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson listens as President Donald Trump speaks to the media during a cabinet meeting at...
Kevin Dietsch

Doing himself no favors, Trump lashes out at ‘dumb’ former cabinet sec

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke at an event in Houston yesterday, and shared some uncomplimentary thoughts on Donald Trump. According to the nation’s former chief diplomat, the president is “pretty undisciplined,” “doesn’t like to read,” and “often” urged Tillerson to pursue policies that were inconsistent with American laws.

Evidently, Trump heard about the remarks.

President Donald Trump launched into a no-holds-barred attack on his former secretary of state on Friday hours after Rex Tillerson gave his own blistering assessment of his time as the president’s chief diplomat.

“Rex Tillerson didn’t have the mental capacity needed,” Trump tweeted. “He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell.”

I don’t doubt that the president found this satisfying. Someone who saw how Trump tries to govern told the public some unflattering truths, so Trump found it necessary to lash out and insult his new critic. He gets hit, he impulsively hits back.

But if the president assumes these little outbursts make him look better, he has this exactly backwards. In fact, Trump’s tweet leads to a fairly obvious follow-up question: if Rex Tillerson is “dumb,” “lazy,” and lacking in “mental capacity,” why exactly did the president make him the secretary of state?

Remember, it was just a few years ago when then-candidate Trump vowed to surround himself “only with the best and most serious people” if elected. It was right around the time he promised via Facebook to “hire the best people.”

Either he’s succeeded on this front or he hasn’t – and according to Trump, there’s a fair amount of evidence for the latter.

I’m not just talking about all of the many, many members of his team who’ve left; I’m thinking more about the members of his team who’ve left, only to face public ridicule and condemnations after their departures.

The Atlantic’s David Frum had a good Twitter thread along these lines this afternoon, highlighting the president’s needlessly acerbic rebukes of all kinds of former allies, from his former attorney general (Jeff Sessions) to his former personal attorney/fixer (Michael Cohen) to his former chief White House strategist (Steve Bannon).

Maybe “the best and most serious people” were too hard to find?

Donald Trump and White House

Doing himself no favors, Trump lashes out at 'dumb' former cabinet sec