A memo to Rex Tillerson about the 'moron'
To: Rex Tillerson
From: Robert Reich
Subject: The Moron
I can understand why you feel Washington is a place of "petty nonsense," as you said last week when you called a news conference to rebut charges that you called Donald Trump a moron last summer at a meeting of national security officials at the Pentagon.
I'm also reasonably sure you called him a moron, which doesn't make Washington any less petty. You probably called him a moron because almost all of us out here in the rest of America routinely call him that.
But you're right: There are far more important issues than the epithet you likely used to describe your boss.
On the other hand, your calling him a moron wouldn't itself have mushroomed into a headline issue -- even in petty Washington -- if there weren't deep concerns about the president's state of mind to begin with.
The reason your moronic comment about Trump made the headlines is that Trump really is a moron, at least in the sense in which you probably meant it: He's impulsive, mercurial, often cruel and pathologically narcissistic. Some psychologists who have studied his behavior have concluded he's a sociopath.
Washington is petty, but it's not nonsensical. It latches on to gaffes only when they reveal something important. As journalist Michael Kinsley once said, "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth -- some obvious truth he isn't supposed to say."
Face it: You are secretary of state -- the nation's chief diplomat -- under a president who's dangerously nuts.