December 13, 2016

Tillerson, Russians and Democrats

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee for Secretary of State and Democrats, as they have been for every single nominee, tweet, etc. since election night, are fit to be tied.

Via Bloomberg;
Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson will be nominated as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state, setting up a potential confirmation battle with U.S. lawmakers who have questioned the oilman’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin...

The prospect of a Tillerson nomination has already drawn some objections from lawmakers in both parties, who expressed concern about his two decades of dealings with Putin at a time when possible Russian interference in the U.S. election is under scrutiny. That suggests that the Exxon executive could face a messy Senate confirmation fight. Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida were among those who said they had questions about Tillerson’s dealings with Putin.
Much of this is politics.  Democrats have reflexively resisted everything from Trump going back to the time of his nomination by the GOP.  And to claim the questions are bi-partisan, you need only look at the Republicans who are named Rubio and McCain - not exactly Trump enthusiasts, to realize that Tillerson's Russian dealings aren't really a bi-partisan issue.

More importantly there's the Russia hypocrisy emanating from the Democrats.  A party that once seemingly embraced Soviet style government, a party that prided itself on Hillary Clinton's Russian reset (failure) has suddenly become the alarmists about Russian aggression in the cyber realm. Clearly that's a matter of convenience for them; Russia rigged the American election, Trump and his cadre are too close to Putin and Russia.  Yeah.  Given the source of the hand-wringing I'm not that worried.  Trump and Tillerson are capable of dealing with Russia and both seem to get the idea of America first.  

The idea that they will be played by Putin is a possibility - it happened to Obama and Hillary Clinton time and again, so there's a bit of projection in Democrats' concerns.  But who is to say that Tillerson who has been closer to Russia than most hasn't been effectively playing Putin and the Russians?  Or, perhaps in dealing with Russia just as with every other country, deals are not a zero sum game.  Just maybe both sides can benefit from dealings and as long as America gets the lion's share of that total benefit, then positive dealings with Russia might not be a bad thing.  That America can end up on the wrong side of the equation is possible but less likely given Trump's America first mandate and guiding principle. 

I expect Tillerson will get the green light along with most every Trump appointee, if not all of them. 

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