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A memo to Rex Tillerson about the 'moron'

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

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.

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