Oct 5, 2017

Welcome to Rex Tillerson's life

Rex Tillerson makes a statement at State yesterday. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

You headed one of America's couple largest companies, and the biggest of the energy "supermajors".

You were Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon. Now you're Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State to Donald Trump. Your life blows.

Before:

  • You were unusually imperious, even for a corporate big shot — waited on hand and foot by lackeys who stroked and coddled you for decades.
  • You had a corporate dining room, so you never had to see the rabble.
  • You presided over one of the most hierarchical of the world's corporate cultures, reflecting the tone set by John D. Rockefeller.
  • You flew private all over the globe. You got briefing books, had your own foreign policy, and a security detail.

Now:

  • Your boss doesn't love you, and doesn't even think he needs someone in your job — he likes doing it himself, and thinks he should.
  • You don't think much of your boss, and neither do your friends.
  • You're supposed to cut your budget: always a thankless job — but one that, in this case, may not even be a good idea.
  • Morale in your building is terrible, and no one thinks you have juice.
  • You treat everyone dismissively — media, colleagues, counterparts — with predictable results.
  • Yes, you called your boss a "moron" during a meeting at the Pentagon. It could have been worse.
  • You didn't even bother to deny it, although finally your spokesperson did. Everyone in the West Wing thinks/knows you said it.
  • Some people who were in the room tattled to the press. So now you have to go out and say your boss is a genius — as if you were being forced to apologize to a sibling.
  • And now you're trapped. The new regime downtown wants stability. Expectations were that you'd be gone by Thanksgiving, but now that's stretched into 2018.
  • On top of it all, after a perfect career, your last public act is already an obvious failure — and you have to keep doing it.

Welcome to Rex Tillerson's life. No wonder he didn't feel very diplomatic.

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