Rex Tillerson Suddenly Knows a Lot About Ethics

Trump Administration

Rex Tillerson. Remember him? The man who served under Donald Trump for over a year, who has been widely termed “the worst secretaries of State in modern history”? On Wednesday Tillerson gave a commencement speech at the Virginia Military Institute in which he warned of a “growing crisis in ethics and integrity.”

Yes, that’s right. Tillerson, who stood by as Trump called white supremacists “very fine people,” suddenly seems to have a lot of opinions about ethical leadership:

As I reflect upon the state of our American democracy, I observe a growing crisis in ethics and integrity. If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both public and private sector — and regrettably, at times, even the non-profit sector — then American democracy, as we know it, is entering its twilight years.

This is the same Tillerson who presided as Secretary of State when the president threatened “fire and fury” against North Korea and bombed Syria’s Bashar al-Assad because he wanted to back up his tweets.

In his speech, Tillerson also spoke about the importance of truth:

If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom. A responsibility of every American citizen to each other is to preserve and protect our freedom by recognizing what truth is and is not, what a fact is and is not, and begin by holding ourselves accountable to truthfulness, and demand our pursuit of America’s future be fact-based.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the guy who was once the CEO of Exxon Mobil, a company famous for deceiving the public about the actual effect that burning fossil fuels has on climate change.

Only a fantastically dense person could hear Tillerson’s speech and come away impressed. And that person, it turns out, is CNN’s own Chris Cillizza.


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