After reports surfaced claiming that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had allegedly called President Donald Trump a “moron,” the former energy executive held a press conference saying he thinks the president is “smart.”
This makes Tillerson yet another victim of pro-Trump peer pressure, as he joins the group of officials who felt they had to publicly praise their dear leader.
As CNN reports, Tillerson’s press conference ended up being a near-admission of guilt, with the state secretary saying that while he denies he ever considered leaving the Trump administration, he wasn’t going to respond to the claims that he ever called Trump a moron.
“I want to dispel with this notion that I have ever considered leaving,” he told reporters.
When asked to address the “moron” comments, he added: “I'm not going to deal with petty stuff like that.“
As he failed to outright deny he used the less-than-flattering term to refer to the president, Tillerson prompted many people in the media to speculate that the official may have felt pressured to showcase his loyalty to Trump and his administration. As a result, he was compared to others, who before him, were also caught up in similar incidents and then forced to publicly “apologize” for their alleged comments.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was a target of Trump’s tantrums on different occasions, said in July that the president’s criticism of him was “kind of hurtful.” Still, he refrained from attacking the president and instead praised him, calling him a “strong leader.”
Recently, Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, Peurto Rico, “acknowledged what a great job” the Trump administration had done after Hurricane Maria, Trump said, just days after he publicly attacked her.
While this isn’t the first nor the last time a Trump administration official feels he or she has to praise the president in order to continue serving his office, it’s clear that displays of loyalty appear to be more important than a job well done.
But knowing Trump for his unapologetic self-centeredness, it’s clear that what matters to him isn’t efficiency and good work. Instead, all he really cares about is to be surrounded by “yes men" who won’t criticize him.
Instead of helping the administration change for the better — as everyone seems simply too worried about making the president happy — these officials appear to be working solely to ensure the president knows they are loyal.
If this isn't the trait of a tyrannical government administration, we don't know what is.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque