An owl's eye view of forests and trees

Tillerson’s Out – Trump Keeps Proving My Hypotheses

Some ramblings from this morning’s news.  Not my usual.


Tillerson’s gone.  In kicking him to the curb, Trump once again proves some hypotheses I have been testing.  To be honest, I would rather he wouldn’t keep doing that.   I would be okay with being proven wrong.




Early this morning, I heard talking heads in the news cycle summarize events from yesterday. Theresa May condemned Russia for the recent chemical attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.  Then the White House followed up by condemning the attack, but refused to mention Russia. Next, Secretary of State Tillerson echoed what the White House said, but also threw in an accusation of Russia.


I let that soak in for a bit.  Then I thought, “Well, that’s one thing that Trump has going for him with keeping Tillerson around.”


I mean, it allows Trump to have someone who largely pursues the President’s policy, even though there are occasional flare ups.


But it also means that when something like this happens, Trump gets to have it both ways. So in this case, Trump gets to have the White House not say anything officially against Russia. Meanwhile, his administration, through Tillerson, can say something against Russia to appease the rest of the world PR-wise, while Trump need not change his position.


Win-win for Trump.




Pundits, supporters, and lots of others keep putting forward the idea that Trump uses his bluster and crudity as clever stratagems. That his ideas only seem irrational to put people on uncertain footing, so that Trump can cleverly negotiate a deal or navigate a course.


Similarly, they argue that Trump’s style of allowing those under him to chaotically undermine and back-stab each other works to Trump’s advantage, both as a CEO and as a President.  That this is a clever way of getting the best ideas out, survival of the fittest, or something along those lines.


For the most part, Tillerson seems to pursue Trump’s agenda. Both internally, with the streamlining a/k/a gutting of the State Department. And externally, in pushing foreign policy that is largely in step with the President’s stated goals.


Tillerson and Trump have rubbed the wrong way in the past. Rumors have circulated that Trump considered firing Tillerson repeatedly over the last year.  Nothing has come of them.


And for once, that bit about having people, particularly Tillerson, not in lock step seems to be in a position to work in  Trump’s favor.  His clever stratagem actually has some merit.


After carefully observation, I have come my own personal conclusions on this front.  For reasons I won’t get into here, it’s my assessment that the Trump is not employing clever stratagems. He’s just stupid.


But surely, I am wrong in someway. Surely, when Trump’s style of running things seems to be working in his favor, he, or those close to him, will not do something to prove that he doesn’t see the stratagem he supposedly has in play? Right?




Further, Trump has been dogged with accusations of being influenced by or colluding with Russians.  Again, my personal hypothesis is that there is something significant to those accusations.


And keep in mind.  We’re not just talking about the investigation into the election.  It’s all the things Trump keeps saying and doing since, as well. And those he doesn’t say or do.  All regarding Russia.


One small example. Trump chose not to pursue sanctions against Russia that Congress had approved on a bi-partisan basis. Bi-partisan! We all know how hard it is to get Congress to do anything on a bi-partisan basis in the current political environment.


There are plenty of others.  Including the ongoing lengths Trump goes to claim there is nothing going on between him and Russia.  <<Cough, cough. The recent news from the Republicans of the House Intelligence Committee and Trump’s all caps tweet in response.  Cough, cough.>>


But with Tillerson’s statements yesterday, Trump has the great chance to “say something” against Russia, while not saying anything against Russia. If he just went along with it, and made no further comment one way or another, he would get to have it both ways. And in the process, help lay some evidence that he is not desperately trying to do things to protect Russia, or to cover up his actions regarding Russia.




Trump only had to let things sit.


Surely, if Trump wants so desperately to prove that he is not under the influence of Russia, all he has to do is not say anything.


Surely, if Trump is not as stupid as my observations lead me to believe, he will realize all he has to do is nothing and enjoy the benefits of the win-win situation and validation of his tactics.


Surely, for once, Trump won’t use this opportunity to prove the assessments about his disturbing, psychological need for constant personal loyalty.  Especially because he has been challenged more personally or directly by Tillerson’s actions before.


Trump will just sit back and enjoy the situation for once. He and his advisers clearly see the advantages here.  Right?





So, having considered the above, I figured that, despite my personal assessments about Trump’s intelligence and Russian connections, nothing further would be forthcoming on this story.  I stepped away from the news fairly confident that Tillerson was going to be in his job for a while to come.


Then I checked back with the news, maybe half-an-hour later.  In the intervening time Trump had fired Tillerson and said CIA Director Pompeo would replace him as Secretary of State.


Trump only had to nothing. But he didn’t.




Obviously, given the fact that Tillerson’s replacement was already lined up, Trump had this contingency planned for a while.


Were Tillerson’s comments on Russia yesterday the final straw? I don’t know. But no matter what Trump says in the wake of this decision, it will still appear to be the case.


In so doing, Trump proved that his need for loyalty outweighed rationally assessing the benefits of Tillerson’s comments this time around.


Trump also proved just how important Russia is to him. It was not the report of calling Trump a “moron,” or undermining Trump’s statements about North Korea. No, it was Russia that crossed the line in the sand.  Why do this if there is no basis for the accusations about Trump and Russia?


Further, Trump proved there is no strategy regarding the chaos in his administration. In this instance, the chaos ended up working for him, but he undermined it.


No matter what explanations Trump gives for his decision, firing Tillerson serves to undermine the Secretary of State’s accusations against Russia. That does not serve to show Trump’s cleverness. It does not establish a lack of connection between Trump and Russia.


Instead it shows Trump again shooting himself in the foot.


I feel like I have had several of my hypotheses about the President once again confirmed in this one story.


I would much rather none of those hypotheses be accurate.


  1. He has no Strategic Leadership Sense. Actually, I could break that down into three statements: No Strategy, no Leadership, and no Sense. A twelve-year old who watched ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ could do a a more consistent and better job.

    • Ann Anderson

      March 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      See, that’s where my problem is. I keep trying to refrain from making that kind of assessment. And all the evidence I keep gathering leads right back to that kind of assessment.

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