(AP Photo/Molly Riley, File)

Rex Tillerson: The American government is "not a highly disciplined organization"

The Secretary of State has failed to fully staff his department, yet blames the government for being inefficient


Matthew Rozsa
July 14, 2017 1:12PM (UTC)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may have failed to staff the State Department, but that doesn't mean he's blaming himself.

On a flight to the United States from the Middle East, Tillerson told  reporters that "it is a lot different than being CEO of Exxon because I was the ultimate decision-maker. That always makes life easier."

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He added that when you're a CEO and make a decision, "you own it, you make the decision, and I had a very different organization around me. One that I spent my whole life with, people knew me very well and they knew what to expect."

He added, "We had very long-standing, disciplined processes and decision-making — I mean, highly structured — that allows you to accomplish a lot, to accomplish a lot in a very efficient way."

The secretary of state placed some of the blame for his frustrations on the government itself, arguing that the American state is "largely not a highly disciplined organization."

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Surprisingly, however, Tillerson also acknowledged that part of the problem may rest with the identity of America's current commander-in-chief.

"You know, in all honesty, we have a president that doesn't come from the political world either," Tillerson said. "In my old life, I spent a lot of time around the political world because I had to deal with governments all over the world. . . I'm quite comfortable in these settings."

It remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump, who is well-known to be sensitive to criticism and has an eye for potential disloyalty (real or imagined), will take kindly to Tillerson's remarks.

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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