Senator John McCain sounding his characteristic all-knowing and all-mighty old self-tried to school Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by hurling insults his way. But Tillerson waited for the perfect moment to speak his mind, set things in proper perspective, and consequently put McCain in his place.
McCain turned to the New York Times to shame Tillerson by writing an opinion piece that practically accused Tillerson of killing America’s overseas allies. McCain particularly blamed Tillerson for advancing policies that were “simply transactional” and not based on American values.
McCain also took it upon himself to liberally interpret Tillerson’s earlier address to State Department employees about the Trump administration’s policy to mean that Tillerson is sending a message to oppressed people everywhere, and which is, in McCain’s words: “Don’t look to the United States for hope.” And putting words in Tillerson’s mouth, McCain in his ‘great interpretation’ added: “Our values make us sympathetic to your plight, and when it’s convenient, we might officially express that sympathy. But we make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values. So, if you happen to be in the way of our forging relationships with your oppressors that could serve our security and economic interests, good luck to you. You’re on your own.”
Such self-righteous rhetoric of McCain was harsh for Tillerson who is just trying to build national diplomacy that was based on Trump’s general call for an “American first” way of doing business. Tillerson has no plans of running his State Department the way the previous Obama administration did or the way Hillary once did- that is, as a bleeding heart liberal humanitarian assistance program.
Tillerson had the chance to shut up and silence McCain. In a “Meet The Press” on NBC interview, Tillerson said “America’s values of freedom, of treatment of people, of human dignity, freedom of expression throughout the world, those are our values. Those are enduring values. They are part of everything we do. But I make a distinction between values and policy. A policy has to be tailored to the individual situation. To the country. To the circumstances.”
And then Tillerson gave a solid concluding statement that if it were a punch could have knocked out McCain. Tillerson remarked: “And so the values guide our policy, but if we put our values to the front of our policies… we have no room to adapt to changing circumstances to achieve our ultimate objective.”
McCain may be old and experienced in terms of years spent in government service but he does not know everything, and he is not necessarily smarter than others, or more correct, for that matter. He is in the Senate, so maybe it will be best to allow executive matters to guys like Tillerson who perfectly know not just what they’re talking, but more importantly, what they are doing.