December 13, 2016 1:08 PM
Johnny Isakson has issued the following statement on the nomination of Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, to be U.S. Secretary of State:
“Mr. Tillerson has an impressive background with unique experience and extensive knowledge of working in a global environment. I congratulate Mr. Tillerson on his nomination, and I look forward to meeting with him during the confirmation process to learn more about how he views the world and America’s national interests.”
The press release sent with the statement indicates that his hearings will be in early January. Traditionally, the Secretary of State is one of the first cabinet appointments taken up so that the US Government may have full diplomatic channels in place during a time of transition.
There will be pointed questions asked of Tillerson, many of which will be appropriate. Marco Rubio’s statements on Tillerson have been a bit more suspect. That’s fine. Advice and consent of the Senate should not be based on partisan grounds. It needs to be thorough and complete.
When word of Tillerson’s nomination began to leak over the weekend, I had brief text conversations with a friend of mine. He wasn’t impressed, whereas I was cautiously optimistic. I’ve actually met Tillerson, and had about a 20 minute conversation with him years ago at a wedding reception where he nor I knew many of the attendees.
It was during the post-Katrina oil price spike, when gas prices had crossed the then unthinkable $3/gallon range. At the time I was writing a bit on America’s need to be energy independent, so we had a few things we could talk about. I asked him what it was like to be the national bad guy with talk of “windfall profits” taxes swirling. He seemed to be used to it.
He then told me an anecdote of a high ranking U.S. Senator that demanded that he get gas prices under $2.50/gallon before the election. Tillerson’s reply was to ask him if gas got down to $2/gallon, would the Senator then help him get back up to $2.50?
Exxon didn’t increase drilling during that spike. They knew it was that – a spike. They operate on a fifty year plan. This allows them to not overreact during a crisis, creating an equal and opposite crisis on the other side. I can see this as a skill that is not only transferrable to Washington, but one that is sorely needed. One that may be especially needed in a Trump White House, where every negative report on the morning news is currently responded to via tweet.
What I see in his career is that he has dealt with leaders in almost every country where the U.S. has foreign policy issues. He’s been able to navigate his company successfully on the basis that for him to make a deal, everyone has to win. This IS diplomacy. It is also, again, a skill set sorely needed in U.S. foreign policy at the moment.
It appears concerns will be addressed directly by Senators such as Marco Rubio, and answers will be public for all to view and judge.
As for my friends on the left that are in mode of “But, Oil!” and “OMG, Russia!”, I doubt there’s much here for you. You likely have already quit reading and rushed to the comments, or moved on. That’s fine too. I’m willing to say I want Tillerson fully vetted, and do have concerns that Russia must be held in check.
But if your starting point is you believe that the man who bought oil from the Russians is more dangerous as Secretary of State than the one that sold them 1/5 of our uranium supply, your partisanship is showing. Russia has been a threat for a while. Whether you were mocking it in 2012, or ignoring it until now, I’m glad to have you finally considering that the world is still a dangerous place.