As a New York kid, I didn’t know much about plants or animals unless they appeared on the A train, which they didn’t. Nothing about sorghum, the boll weevil, tumbleweed or horses. As a grownup, I’ve gotten better, but not much.

So I liked Margaret Brennan’s “Sixty Minutes” interview with Rex Tillerson on February 18 of this year, less than a month ago. It was refreshing, notably free of diplospeak or jargon.  Actually, although he was then Secretary of State, he seemed more of an observer of Foggy Bottom than its leader. No Dean Acheson, he, and the fired Tillerson is now an observer indeed.

After avoiding the allegations that he had called Trump a “moron” and the rumors flying around since December 2017 that he was out or going out at State, he welcomed Brennan’s question about his adherence to the “Code of the West.” I’d never heard of that Code. He confirmed that he was in accord with the Code. He explained that when a cowboy takes a job, he is loyal to the owner’s “brand,” referring to the painful  burning of symbols of possession into the hides of cattle with a hot poker. I knew that much about a “brand.”

“I ride for the brand,” Tillerson said. Nice, I thought: an analogy from the range and not the top of my stove. The “brand” is the United States, the State Department, and the American people, he explained.

Tillerson seemed unperturbed that thirteen months into the Administration, the “brand” for which he cantered had no ambassadors in forty-one countries, that most of the senior staff at State had not even been nominated. One who had was fired today along with him.

Although the media is pushing the story that Tillerson’s departure today was peremptory, it really wasn’t. It was the subject of informed prediction for months. His view of this exit may be reflected in his eight-minute statement at State’s press room this afternoon in which he referred to “the administration” but not once to Trump. That’s up to Code, I guess.

Now the job goes to West Point and Harvard Law School graduate and CIA Director Mike Pompeo,  if confirmed. The nomination will be shepherded by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Corker. This morning Corker said he “thinks” he met Pompeo once, but he’s not sure. Corker correctly stated that of all Cabinet posts, State is the most in “the President’s lane” with an inherent possibility of conflict between the President and the Secretary.

Let’s hope that incoming Secretary Pompeo has a “code” of competence that includes respect for the career Foreign Service and our allies.