Today, Senator Marco Rubio showed surprising spine in questioning Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
First of all, nobody named “Rex” should be allowed to hold an unelected position in a democracy. Think about it.
More to the point, Little Marco put the pincers to the corporate front man, asking him whether Tillerson would describe Vladimir Putin as a war criminal because of his actions bombing hospitals in Syria. Tillerson refused. He could have slid by with a little humor and say it would be undiplomatic to use that expression, but Tillerson was serious as a heart attack in his answers. He clearly did not want his friend and colleague, Vladimir Putin, to have any doubts about whose side Tillerson was on when it came to foreign policy. When Rubio pressed him on other points, Tillerson played the “I don’t have enough information” card, even though everything Rubio asked him about was written about in all the papers, as Rubio himself suggested. Again, Tillerson could have joked that the New York Times is illegal in Texas, where he’s from, but the Wall Street Journal isn’t and we’re all sure he reads that since he’s a businessman.
But really there’s nothing funny about Tillerson’s nomination. He’s never been a diplomat before; he’s never had any job in public service. He’s an engineer by trade. Why would someone like that take a huge pay cut to become Secretary of State, a job that his peers hold in lesser esteem than his position at Exxon?
There’s only one answer, of course. Exxon holds the drilling rights on 65 million acres of land in Russia, many times more land than it holds anywhere else. But it can’t drill on that land because of sanctions imposed by the Obama regime. Tillerson’s job is to get those sanctions lifted so Exxon can drill. Sure, he’s retired, but don’t tell me he’s forgotten the company he spent his entire life serving, whose pension he collects and whose stock he owns. (I know it’s in a blind trust, but not a amnesiac trust.) And don’t tell me Trump doesn’t stand to make a tidy sum either from Exxon or Putin or both. Or better yet, do tell me. Show me the tax returns that say he’s not profiting from this transaction. I’ll just take a deep breath and hold it….
Into this fray steps Marco Rubio, the man Trump did everything but urinate on. He was looking pretty senatorial reading from his papers and grilling the old oil man. And he had old Rexy on the run. The question is, will he follow through?
The committee is structured so that it follows the Rule of One. Assuming all the Democrats vote against Trump’s man, it only takes one Republican switching sides to derail the nomination. Will Rubio do it? Will he go against his party? Or is he just throwing a hissy fit for show?
(If so, the show will be what a spineless poseur he is. And we’ve seen that show and didn’t vote for it.)
It was an exciting moment when Ted Cruz took the stage at the Republican National Convention. Trump had insulted Cruz’s wife and defamed his father. Payback time. And in political terms, he did his best to tear Trump a new one then stomped off into the night. But when September rolled around, there was video of Ted smiling and manning the phones in a get out the vote effort—for Trump. If Ted had any guts, he would have started the “New Republican Party” for old-time neo-con, country club Republicans and run against Trump. He might not have won, but he would have gotten all the financial support the big donors refused to give to Trump, won a load of media support and shown something everybody was sure he didn’t have: character. He would have set himself up as the leading candidate for 2020. And don’t forget, at the time no one expected Trump to win anyway. (He didn’t, but that’s another story.) He could have sent Trump down the drain without hurting his party. Trump called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted.” Cruz could have called Trump the word he hates and fears the most. “Loser.”
Now Rubio has a chance to use his power as a Senator and remind the Donald that the President is not the king. Shooting down Trump’s nomination for Secretary of State would put a thumb in Trump’s and it would be the right thing to do for the country.
But don’t hold your breath.