‘The President Speaks For Himself, Chris’

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Excerpted from a longer editorial in The New York Times 

It should be among the easier tasks of a cabinet member to affirm, without hesitation, that the president he or she serves represents the values of the American people.

But that was more than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could muster during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Asked by Chris Wallace whether President Trump’s morally vacuous response to the racist march and deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., made his job harder, Mr. Tillerson said, “I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.”

“And the president’s values?” Mr. Wallace asked. Mr. Tillerson replied, “The president speaks for himself, Chris.”

Coming from the man the president picked to represent the nation around the world, it was a stunning admission, devastating in its simplicity and painful in its accuracy.

Mr. Trump, we are reminded every day in ways we would not have imagined the day before, speaks and acts in the interests of himself and no one else.

[…]

In his seven months as president, Mr. Trump has attacked federal judges who ruled against the administration’s travel ban; tried to impede investigations into his allies, including Mr. Arpaio; and exhorted police officers to treat suspects roughly — which earned a quick rebuke from his own Justice Department and police officials around the country.

Rebukes, from his advisers and members of Congress, grow more frequent. 

[…]

But this is Donald Trump’s rule of law — a display of personal dominance disconnected from concerns about law and order, equality or the Constitution. That distorted understanding of justice is cleaving the nation between the majority who support the principles of American democracy and those who support only him.

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And because we can, we’re going to take this opportunity to reprint our post on the Tillerson remark for anyone who missed it….

It seems pretty clear at this point that it’s just a matter of time before we see another high profile exit from Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Over the weekend, Rex Tillerson had the opportunity to give the commander in chief a vote of confidence in an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace and instead gave Trump this vote of … something?…

 

I don’t know about you, but that certainly seems to suggest that Tillerson is not only trying to distance himself from Trump’s remarks, but is in fact trying to speak on behalf of the entire country in suggesting that the President does not represent America’s collective view on equality.

Over the weekend, Axios suggested in one of their “scoops” (and that term is kind of loosely defined over there), that Trump is becoming increasingly frustrated with his Secretary of State. “There’s a ticking problem with Rex Tillerson, and it’s growing louder by the day, according to officials inside and close to the White House,” Axios wrote, adding that “recently, after Trump had returned from a meeting on Afghanistan, a source recalled Trump saying, ‘Rex just doesn’t get it, he’s totally establishment in his thinking.’”

And see that underscores the problem with Trump. He seems to have fallen into the Bannon/Breitbart trap of branding everything that isn’t consistent with what many consider to be a radical nationalist agenda “establishment.”

That dynamic was on full display on Saturday when Breitbart essentially called Paul Ryan a “leftist” after the Speaker criticized Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Meanwhile, WaPo notes that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appears to be telling the military that their commander in chief has lost his fucking mind. Of course that’s not the way WaPo puts it and it’s certainly not how Mattis phrased it, but I challenge you to read the following remarks delivered to troops stationed abroad last week and draw a different conclusion:

Our country right now, it’s got problems we don’t have in the military … You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.

The power of inspiration — we’ll get the power of inspiration back.

“These aren’t GOP members of Congress distancing themselves from a president they’ve secretly always disliked,” WaPo reminds you. “These are two of the highest-ranking officials in government — who both agreed to be conduits for Trump’s policies and presidency — publicly disagreeing with their boss on whether America is going in the right direction.”

In other words, Mattis and Tillerson don’t see to think Trump is “making America great again.”

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