The way West Wing staffers have been fired or have resigned gives the impression that Trump's house has imploded. He will do a fantastic job! President Donald Trump mistrusted his secretary of state from the early days, shunning Rex Tillerson's advice and relegating him to the margins of the White House.
Now, with an global summit between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ostensibly two months away, Tillerson leaves a State Department where the top North Korea expert, Joseph Yun, has just resigned (in great frustration, I hear), where there is no ambassador to South Korea and where more than a third of the top 152 positions under the secretary requiring Senate confirmation have no nominee.
Trump did not assign any reason for sacking Tillerson.
The goal was to hammer out a consensus on key issues before addressing them to the White House. Allied governments have sought to placate Mr Trump with offers of a side declaration, in which JCPOA signatories say they do not intend to let Iran resume nuclear work. Pompeo, a Tea Partier who had been heading the Central Intelligence Agency, seems like a ideal match for the insanity of Trump administration "diplomacy".
The next day, Friday, Trump told White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to tell Tillerson he needed to resign, White House officials said. This is the message Trump was trying to send during his address to the South Korean legislature, when he told Kim in no uncertain terms: "The weapons you are acquiring are not making you safer".
As a variety of commentators have already noted, Tillerson's primary legacy from his 14 months of service is a demoralized and disempowered State Department that is hemorrhaging talent and experience.
Foreign Service officers are decent people.
It was a long time coming.
After announcing Tillerson's dismissal on Twitter Tuesday, Trump himself hinted that more changes might be forthcoming. That is a non-starter for the United States, and before the president gets anywhere near Kim Jong Un, that big gap in what we demand and what North Korea is willing to offer must be closed.
Third, Jared Kushner, who operates as a freelancer and carries the baggage of multiple conflicts of interest, must be benched - at least in the foreign policy arena. Trump's tweets also showed that he had little respect for his cabinet colleague. It ended up being a go-nowhere effort that ended when Tillerson was sacked on Tuesday.
Like those leaders, Tillerson had sought to fit Trump's policies within a framework, especially on the world stage, where basic respect for worldwide institutions and norms has served previous administrations well.
Even before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson walked into the department's Foggy Bottom headquarters, he was in trouble. The statement came from an undersecretary, and it was clear those were Tillerson's words.
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post. He dispensed with the usual ritual testimonial to a president who has treated him so poorly, instead thanking his colleagues at the State Department and the Pentagon. "We hope he will review the State Department's position on the terror victims' lawsuits".
Trump's tone in announcing the reshuffle was nearly that of an exultant commander picking his "war cabinet", though the challenges for now will be diplomatic. It is up to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to develop a peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians. After a lengthy pause, many might eventually remember that the former Exxon Mobil CEO was reported to have called Trump a "moron". (Here's a lesson from Diplomacy 101: almost all worldwide agreements are "flawed" in that they are the result of negotiations in which neither side gets everything it would like.) Those complaining about Iranian missiles or other non-nuclear activities would see just as much of those activities as before and an expanded Iranian nuclear program. "So we were not thinking the same", Trump said of Tillerson. Iran "cannot remain in a deal in which there is no benefit for us", he said. In part, this was because the administration had simply kicked hard issues like Iran and NAFTA down the road, meaning that Trump was soon going to be confronted with a choice between escalating and retreating.