Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Secretary Tillerson Isn't Press-Friendly, and We Should Be Okay With That
Regarding our evidently press-shy SecState Rex Tillerson, am I the only one who sees him in the mold of former SecState George Shultz (1982 to 1989)?
Like Tillerson, Shultz (see his official bio here) was also a former CEO - in his case it was Bechtel and the international construction business - and became Secretary of State unexpectedly. Shultz had been an economic advisor and budget guy before President Reagan asked him to replace Al Haig when the later resigned after only seven months in office.
I watched Tillerson's "Hi, I'm the new guy" first day speech, and hearing him stress safety as a core value made me flash back to seeing Shultz at a townhall meeting back in his day (I am sooo old!) and hearing him equate security of diplomatic operations to industrial safety in the construction business. Both times I was a little surprised, but figured yeah, okay, I guess.
Shultz didn't do a lot of flying around Special Envoy-like, but mainly stayed in the office and ran the organization. Fundamentally undramatic. I don't remember him being a media star. He seemed to have the economist's mindset, in which you make an input and then wait six or eight months to see if it had an effect. There's not much immediate gratification there to excite the news media.
Tillerson gives every indication so far of being the same pragmatic CEO type of Secretary. We could do a lot worse, even he never gets friendly with the press corps.