Tillerson Business Style Spooks Swamp Diplomats

Aside from some pretty ostentatious terminations from the seventh floor of the State Department, Trump Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is quietly changing the tone and way things are done at State – and it’s making people both at home and abroad nervous. A number of background type stories from the Associated Press, Reuters, ABC News and more, stress the differences between Tillerson, his predecessors, and his boss.

  • The current secretary of state is very well prepared and relaxed in meetings where he emphasizes that the priority is the safety and security of personnel working abroad.
  • Tillerson, a former CEO of a large corporation, prefers brief and to the point backgrounders with highlights rather than half a ream of nuanced details in the white papers presented to him.
  • T-Rex, as he has come to be known in some circles, avoids the spotlight, and unlike, say, former Secretary of State John Kerry, does not have entrance and exit ceremonies in foreign nations just to have them.  He also goes where he is most needed, not where the photo opportunities are most plentiful.
  • The Department of State may not be front and center in the presentation and formation of foreign policy matters in the Trump Administration so far, but Tillerson is on the phone with HIS boss, President Trump multiple times a day sharing information.
  • Many staffers who are still in their previous positions and have not been reassigned or told to apply for different jobs – many employees have been – within state are trepid about their futures within the government.

This style stands in sharp contrast to previous administrations.  From Reuters:

“People want to back him,” one veteran senior official said about the former Exxon Mobil boss. “But people are feeling that this building is being stripped,” said the official, referring to a sense that with so many top positions vacant, the State Department is not fully equipped to help make policy in the new administration.

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