Even more than most cabinet members who have extensive responsibilities detailed by law, the power of the secretary of state depends on the incumbent’s relationship with the president. He or she needs to be able to speak for the president, and audiences both domestic and foreign need to know that this is the case. This is demonstrated not only by presidential statements of praise but also by the secretary’s presence at meetings with foreign leaders and in important policymaking deliberations. Rex Tillerson’s position here is very weak. President Donald Trump has shown his lack of faith in him by vetoing his choice for the No. 2 position in his department, Elliott Abrams.
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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.