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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Tony Karumba / AFP / Getty Images

Mike Pompeo takes over the State Department with three decided advantages over his predecessor: familiarity with foreign policy, experience in government and a good rapport with President Trump. Rex Tillerson, by contrast, had none of those.

The background: Tillerson made a difficult situation worse by failing to develop a strong relationship with the foreign service. He did not get the department fully resourced and depended on only a small core staff. His focus on restructuring amounted to a corporate CEO’s attempt to superimpose a structure he knew well onto a fundamentally different organization. Not surprisingly, the effort came to naught and many experienced hands abandoned ship.

What’s next: The initial challenge for Pompeo is to shore up his department and fill the long list of vacant overseas posts. It will help if he can somehow persuade the president to rein in both his tweets and his son-in-law, and to better weigh the likely consequences of major decisions before making them. He will need to manage all that amid preparations for a North Korea summit, international fallout from metals tariffs, a pending decision on the Iran nuclear pact and mounting differences with China and Russia — not to mention the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Mueller. It doesn’t appear as though Pompeo will enjoy much of a break between jobs.

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “A World in Disarray.”

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.