Rex Tillerson didn’t want to become Secretary of State — says his wife made him take the job

Steve Coll writes: ExonMobil’s global headquarters are situated on a campus in Irving, Texas, beside a man-made lake. Employees sometimes refer to the glass-and-granite building as the “Death Star,” because of the power that its executives project. During the eleven years that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson served as ExxonMobil’s chairman and chief executive, he had an office on the top floor, in a suite that employees called the “God Pod.” When I visited a few years ago, the building’s interior design eschewed the striving gaudiness of Trump properties; it was more like a Four Seasons untroubled by guests.

When Tillerson travelled, he rarely flew commercial. The corporation’s aviation-services division maintained a fleet of Gulfstream and Bombardier corporate jets at Dallas Love Field Airport, a short drive away. Whether Tillerson was flying to Washington, Abuja, Abu Dhabi, or Jakarta, he would typically be driven in a sedan to a waiting jet. He boarded with a meticulously outlined trip schedule and briefing books. He worked and slept aboard in private comfort, undisturbed by strangers, attended by corporate flight attendants.

During his years running ExxonMobil, Tillerson rarely gave interviews. (He declined my repeated requests for one when I was working on a book about the company, “Private Empire,” which came out in 2012, although he authorized some background interviews with other ExxonMobil executives.) Tillerson’s infrequent public appearances were usually controlled and scripted. [Continue reading…]

Erin McPike writes: hat seems to make Tillerson, with his Texas drawl, different from secretaries past is his relative disinterest in the pomp and circumstance that some seem to believe is part and parcel of the job.

When he deplaned in Tokyo on Wednesday night, he appeared ever so slightly uncomfortable to have to walk through the throng of media and others there to greet him.

At every one of his bilateral meetings over four days in East Asia, Tillerson shook hands and posed for cameras as part of the chore he knew he had to muddle through. He dutifully stood for photos in the Korean Demilitarized Zone but seemed to most enjoy several intense, close, face-to-face conversations with Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command, and United Nations Command.

So why, then, did he want the gig?

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job.” He paused to let that sink in.

A beat or two passed before an aide piped up to ask him why he said yes.

“My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.” [Continue reading…]

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