Okay, don’t get mad. We’re not in charge of political coverage here or that of the high-stakes world of international diplomacy. This is the place at ye ol’ Washington Post for news, essays and analysis about relationships and dating. We write exhaustively about “The Bachelor,” which until Tuesday, offered the year’s most awkward public breakup yet.
That was, until President Trump ousted his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. And now this rough split has got us questioning our disdain for how Arie Luyendyk Jr. handled his.
In case you forgot (and how could you?) the finale of ABC’s “The Bachelor” featured Arie surprising the woman he proposed to, Becca Kufrin — by dumping her for another contestant, Lauren Burnham. Viewers lambasted the network and Arie, whose nearly 50-minute breakup was televised for all the world to see.
Why film this? Why insist cameras be present and refuse to leave? We were very unimpressed with Arie’s defense: “I think that the reason why I did it in the way that I did it was because I wanted everyone here and at home to know that this was on me. And it wasn’t on you,” the Bachelor said to Becca during last week’s “After the Final Rose.”
What Arie offered was transparency. And while it was excruciating, at least he talked to Becca, and we got to see him fumble his way through it. Sure, it was horrifyingly embarrassing for Becca to have the moment broadcast, but no one walked away blaming her for this. No, really, it’s not her — it’s him.
That’s the kind of transparency that the American public would devour about our officials. Reporters are scrounging up any detail they can about what went down between Trump and his former secretary of state. What was the first thing he said when he found out? Did he get a chance to ask any clarifying questions, such as, as Becca put it, “Are you f—ing kidding me?”
If this really were a reality show presidency, Trump would have dumped Tillerson Arie-style: with cameras rolling, for all of us to see, analyze and dissect.
Still, there are plenty of other parallels. Let’s review:
The very public nature of the break-ups
Could you imagine getting dumped on national TV? What about through a tweet?
Officials are offering conflicting accounts as to how Tillerson got the news. White House officials told The Post that chief of staff John F. Kelly called Tillerson on Saturday while he traveled in Africa, in the middle of the night, to give a head’s up that the president wanted to announce Tillerson’s replacement. On Twitter. And that Kelly urged him to wait, and suggested Tillerson get back to the United States quickly.
But top State Department spokesman Steve Goldstein told The Post, nah. According to him, Tillerson was “unaware of the reason” for his firing, didn’t speak directly with Trump and that Kelly didn’t give off the vibe that a final decision had been made, just that Tillerson “could expect a tweet.”
“He found out that he was terminated today,” Goldstein told the Post on Tuesday. (Goldstein was later fired).
The New York Times, citing an unnamed senior State Department official, reported Tillerson found out when a top aide showed him this tweet:
It was a surprise, but the people most surprised were the ones who got dumped
It’s not unprecedented for a Bachelor to change his mind after he already proposed — in 2009, Jason Mesnick infamously dumped the winner of his season, Melissa Rycroft, to go back to the runner-up, Molly Malaney. (Jason and Molly are still married and have two children, a fact that was brought up multiple times during Arie’s finale as if to say, “See, this horribly awkward situation is actually for the best!”)
However, Arie’s type of breakup was a new one: He lured his fiance to a house for a happy couple’s weekend, and then dumped her while the cameras filmed everything. Becca may have known her relationship with Arie wasn’t perfect, but she was blindsided when he suddenly ended the engagement.
Likewise, we knew Trump’s relationship with Tillerson was far from perfect, with rumors for a long time that Trump didn’t love Tillerson, and that the former Exxon Mobil chief executive even called the Trump a moron. But Trump dismissed reports that Tillerson would leave as early as December:
Tillerson had been traveling throughout Africa, fully committed to being Trump’s Cabinet member, when he got the news — just as Becca was preparing for married life with Arie. She said they were even looking at houses so they could move in together, and she was trying to figure out what she would do with her place in Minnesota.
In Tillerson’s case, Tuesday’s announcement “sent shock waves across the globe,” The Post reported. “Many U.S. diplomats and foreign leaders reacted with disbelief because they assumed Tillerson had finally begun to settle into his job after rumors of his ouster had swirled for months — even taking on a nickname, Rexit.”
Consider the headline from our very serious colleagues, reporting on the state department: “In the end, no one was more surprised that Tillerson was fired than Tillerson.”
For Becca, honestly, same. She was the only person who had no clue Arie was about to dump her.
The heart wants what it wants
Arie initially chose Becca, but he always had chemistry with Lauren. And that was thrown into sharp relief after he committed himself to Becca.
Chemistry apparently was an issue for Trump, too, as he answered reporters’ questions Tuesday. “We have a very good relationship,” Trump insisted about Tillerson. “For whatever reason, chemistry, whatever it is. Why do people get along? I’ve always right from the beginning, from Day One, I’ve gotten along well with Mike Pompeo.”
Ugh, so true: “Why do people get along?” is such a vexing question, one that’s plagued myriad broken hearts.
I respect his intellect. I respect the process that we’ve all gone through together. We have a very good relationship. For whatever reason, chemistry, whatever it is. Why do people get along? I’ve always right from the beginning from day one, I’ve gotten along well with Mike Pompeo.
And frankly I get along well with Rex, too. And, you know, I wish Rex a lot of good things. I think he’s going to do — I think he’s going to be very happy. I think Rex will be much happier now. But I really appreciate his service.
But with Mike, we’ve had a very good chemistry right from the beginning.
Gotta respect the process — or, you know, “the journey” — and wish your ex all the best in the world. As Becca said, she would want Arie to “follow his heart and not to feel trapped in a relationship with me.”
Gotta lock up your backup before you break up
We have no idea, but it’s pretty safe to assume that Trump got his CIA director Mike Pompeo on board with this new assignment before nixing Tillerson. Just as Arie talked to Lauren on the phone while he and Becca were still together. No one knows what was said during this pivotal phone call, but whatever it was, it gave Arie the confidence to dump Becca a week later — because he knew that Lauren would be waiting for him.
Yeah, but who is the Chris Harrison in the Trump-Tillerson situation?