December 13, 2016

SO IF PICKING THE SECRETARY OF STATE IS A “BRAND DECISION” FOR TRUMP, what does the Rex Tillerson pick say? Honestly, to me it looks like a bad pick. As CEO of Exxon, I’m sure the guy is competent, and he probably knows more about foreign relations than the average Senator, even those with Foreign Relations Committee experience. (Cough! *Joe Biden* Cough!)

But we’re talking branding here. What signal does Trump send with this pick? Some possibilities: (1) The Business Of America Is Business! (2) Remind me why Russia is our adversary? (3) We’re the #1 oil producer in the world thanks to fracking, and we’re going to increase our lead, so we want someone who understands how we can use the Oil Weapon. (4) I got nothin’.

As for #1, well, fine, but I don’t think that’s where Trump wants to go, is it? As for (2), Russia pretty clearly is our adversary. Just because you don’t want to risk nuclear war with them like Hillary did doesn’t mean that they’re our friend. Putin fooled Bush, who thought he looked into his soul, but Trump should have the benefit of that experience. (3) The oil thing kinda makes sense, but do you need an Exxon CEO for that? (4) This is pretty much my main take. I’m comforted, though, that Robert Gates and Condi Rice like Tillerson. Maybe Trump just thinks his own brand is so strong that he doesn’t need to make a branding statement with his Secretary of State pick? Or maybe it’s a literary conspiracy. “Ayn Rand was perhaps the leading literary voice in 20th century America for the notion that, in society, there are makers and takers, and that the takers are parasitic moochers who get in the way of the morally-superior innovators.” Well, if Rand didn’t convince people of that, Obama should have.

Any thoughts? Weigh in in the comments.