Tillerson Aims a Message Directly at Trump

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a talk at the Virginia Military Institute this week and he had a rather pointed message for, or at least about, Donald Trump, without mentioning him by name. This wording was clearly not an accident:

“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,” Tillerson said.

Truth, he said, is the “central tenet of a free society.”

“It is truth that says to our adversaries, ‘We say what we mean, and we mean what we say,’ ” Tillerson said…

“When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth — even on what may seem the most trivial of matters — we go wobbly on America,” Tillerson said.

“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 nonprofit sector — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years,” Tillerson said.

Trump is so vain, he probably thinks this song is about him. And he’s right, it clearly is. But how much stronger would that message be if Tillerson had come out and named him specifically? He has nothing to fear from Trump at this point. He’s not a politician, he isn’t going to run for office, he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and he has inside knowledge of what goes on in the administration. If he had come out and said, “This man is a pathological liar without an ounce of honesty or integrity and that’s why he should not be the president. I saw it first hand,” that would have reverberated throughout the country in a way that this allusion to him, while everyone knows who it was about, can’t possibly do.

Don’t be a coward, Rex. If you mean what you say about this being an existential threat to American democracy — and it is — then be specific, and don’t just stop with one speech.

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