Donald Trump makes no secret of his feelings for those he dislikes, including his own staff. Latest in his line of fire (at least at the time of writing) is Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, who the president called out on Twitter as both “dumb as a rock” and “lazy as hell.”
Although Tillerson left the State Department more than nine months ago, the tweet did not come out of the blue. In an interview this week with CBS’s Bob Schieffer, Tillerson said Trump got frustrated with him for urging him not to break the law. “When the president would say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, and here’s how I want to do it,’ I’d have to say to him, ‘Well Mr. President, I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way, it violates the law, it violates treaty,’” Tillerson said.
The two have a tortured history. In October last year, NBC News reported that Tillerson called Trump a “moron.” Tillerson never admitted or denied it, saying he would not dignify the suggestion with a response. But Trump didn’t like it and fired Tillerson (via tweet) a few months later.
Tillerson has now earned the dubious honor of being called both dumb and lazy by Trump, two popular genres of insults for the president.
Trump has also called former Florida governor Jeb Bush, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, CNN’s Don Lemon, The Blaze’s Glenn Beck, Republican strategist Rick Wilson, and HBO’s Bill Maher “dumb as a rock,” according to The Hill. The smarts of other enemies have been questioned in different ways, such as Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (“her mind is shot”) and Congresswoman Maxine Waters and actor Robert De Niro (both “low IQ”).
As far as perceived laziness, Trump has leveled that charge at senator Marco Rubio and, on several occasions, presidential predecessor Barack Obama. He also hounded Jeb Bush for being “low energy” as they competed in the Republican primaries.
Traditionally, the relationship between presidents and their secretaries of state is more—shall we say—diplomatic. It stretches the imagination to think of Condoleezza Rice dissing George W. Bush or John Kerry laying into Barack Obama so publicly (and vice versa). This week, we learned James Baker, George H.W. Bush’s longtime secretary of state, was at his former boss’s side in his final hours.
Anyway, times have changed and diplomacy is (apparently) dead.