Posted: 2:55 pm PT
Via BuzzFeed’s John Hudson:
After an intense battle with the White House over his first choice to become the top US diplomat to Asia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering a new candidate with a deep resumé in business and economics but little diplomatic experience…
Olin Wethington, a former Treasury Department official and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, is now a contender for the nomination of assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, four individuals familiar with the matter said.
Tillerson originally wanted the job to go to Susan Thornton, a veteran diplomat who speaks Mandarin Chinese, two US officials told BuzzFeed News. But White House officials opposed her due to concerns that her views were out of step with the president’s agenda — a claim State Department officials deny.
Ultimately, in shifting to Wethington, Tillerson appears to be acquiescing to the White House, which has shown a preference for appointments with a strong business background over career diplomatic experience.
Read in full the John Hudson scoop below.
Secretary Tillerson once took a few minutes to “communicate” his “high regard for the men and women of the State Department.
He promised that as secretary of state he would “deploy the talent and resources of the State Department in the most efficient ways possible, and that he would “depend on the expertise of this institution.”
“Your wisdom, your work ethic and patriotism, is as important as ever. And as your Secretary, I will be proud to draw upon all these qualities in my decision-making,” he told his employees not too long ago.
When asked once what inspires him when he comes to work at the State Department every day, Secretary Tillerson said that “the men and women of the State Department inspire me, my colleagues – their professionalism, their commitment, their patriotism.”
As recently as last month, during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee defending the gutted budget of his agency, he repeated that “My colleagues at the State Department and USAID are a deep source of inspiration, and their patriotism, professionalism, and willingness to make sacrifices for our country are our greatest resource.”
Despite his “high regard” for the men and women of the State Department, and his promise to “depend on the expertise of the institution” he is now leading, and despite the fact that he declared them a “deep source of inspiration” to him, he apparently does not have any control over his staffing, or for that matter, how his building is run.
And seriously, if Tillerson “loves” the AA/S for EAP Susan Thornton, a career diplomat with deep expertise in the former Soviet Union and East Asia, but could not hire her because she has not sworn a blood oath to the kool aid special, what hope is there for other career professionals in Foggy Bottom?
So the next time, Secretary Tillerson talks about his high regard for his people at the State Department, or how he is inspired by his people’s patriotism, professionalism and their sacrifices, remember that Foggy Bottom is now the “Real Post of the Month” and will remain to be so in the foreseeable future. Also don’t forget to check your playbook to see what’s next in dramatic plays over in Foggy Bottom. We understand that the plays, Another Load of Old Crap With the Word Inspiration in the Title; Margaret, Don’t Eat the Government Cheese; and Gone to Texas are all on repeat on BNET.