Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Trump’s firing of Tillerson messy but necessary

President Donald Trumpís abrupt firing by tweet of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday triggered another round of chaos in an administration that appears more unstable than ever. Tillerson was a moderating voice and more in line with mainstream thinking on foreign policy than the president he irritated once too often, but he was a terrible fit for the job. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trumpís choice to succeed Tillerson, is more comfortable with the ways of Washington and this impetuous president.

Trump and Tillerson never clicked, and the secretaryís support for the Iran nuclear deal and for the United States to remain in the Paris climate accord, along with reportedly calling Trump a moron, sealed his fate months ago. The former Exxon Mobil chief executiveís refusal to acknowledge the State Departmentís unique role in shaping Americaís relations overseas also left him with few supporters in the federal government and among Americaís allies. There was reason enough for Trump to fire him, but there was no reason to humiliate him, fire him on Twitter and then call him hours later from Air Force One.

Pompeo has the presidentís ear, thanks to unflagging loyalty and tea party principles that align with Trumpís nationalist agenda. He is a hard-line former Republican House member who politicized the CIA, shares the presidentís unfortunate opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and questions whether the standoff with North Korea can be resolved with diplomacy. But he also has defended the intelligence communityís conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Assuming he is confirmed by the Senate, Pompeo may be a secretary of state more in line with Trump on the wrong policy priorities ó but he also may reinvigorate the State Department bureaucracy and put diplomacy more at the forefront of Americaís global relations.

Trump said Tuesday he made the change as part of preparing for his anticipated meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a possible nuclear deal. Thatís his prerogative, and if this signals the presidentís intention to prepare seriously for these high-stakes talks, so much the better. It also should move the White House to fill key vacancies at the State Department that Tillerson had no use for, and it should give Americaís allies more confidence that greater weight is being placed on diplomacy in breaking the Korean impasse than on unpresidential taunts over who has the biggest nuclear button.

But the United States faces a host of foreign policy challenges: curbing the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea; fighting terrorism in the Mideast, Africa and Afghanistan; maintaining unity in Europe; dealing with the physical and economic impacts of climate change; and limiting the global fallout from Trumpís trade wars. These are just a few examples of why a healthy State Department, and a secretary of state who speaks with the authority of the president, are vital to U.S. national security.

Tillerson was an adult in the room who was too often ignored and too often let his disdain for his boss show. Pompeoís better relationship with the president should make him a more effective emissary abroad. But he will need to balance the demands of staying in Trumpís graces with his larger obligation in this new Cabinet role to advance whatís best for the nation. He will be tested by an unsettled world and a mercurial boss, but global security still calls out for steady American leadership.

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Editorial: Florence shows why flood insurance must be fixed

Editorial: Florence shows why flood insurance must be fixed

The floodwaters have been still rising in North Carolina, more than a week after Hurricane Florence swept through the state. The storm continues to wreak havoc in areas where fewer than 1 in 10 homeowners have flood insurance, underscoring the need f...
Published: 09/25/18

Tuesday’s letters: Amendment 4 is a matter of reason

Amendment 4 will save taxpayers money | Column, Sept. 23 Amendment 4 is a matter of reason My lifelong Republican brother is a moderate, more mainstream thinker, not wedded to extreme right-wing orthodoxy, so I asked him how he plans to vote on Ame...
Published: 09/24/18
Updated: 09/25/18
Editorial: DeSantis, Scott send mixed messages on oil drilling

Editorial: DeSantis, Scott send mixed messages on oil drilling

Every candidate for federal and state office in Florida should be unequivocal in opposing oil drilling off the coast and crystal clear in supporting a permanent extension to the federal ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. But the Republica...
Published: 09/24/18
Updated: 09/25/18
Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18