Tuesday, June 19, 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: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldnít jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the systemís vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee youíll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, weíll all Ö" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsboroughís foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsboroughís foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough Countyís main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felonsí rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felonsí rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18