While he has received little or no criticism from the media, President Barack Obama has continued the practice of awarding major donors with plum diplomatic postings. Now, his ambassador to Luxembourg, Cynthia Stroum, has resigned after an investigation showed such poor management and conduct that embassy staff are in need of emotional counseling.
Obama picked Stroum who is a major democratic donor. He picked her after she helped him collect $500,000 in contributions. That is the equivalent of one dollar for every inhabitant of Luxenbourg.
The Seattle businesswoman was accused by staffers of becoming the Marie Antoinette of the diplomatic corp.
According to an internal State Department report, Stroum abused the staff and spent excessively on wine and comforts. Four staffers reportedly quit and others are in need of counseling.
Staffers accused Stroum of immediately informing them that she put great “importance [on] the perquisites of” being an ambassador. She demanded a suitable house while the ambassador’s residence was being renovated — a search that consumed the staff and its time. She reportedly flew to Switzerland to hire a proper chef from the leading school in Europe. My favorite, however, was her reported objection to the king-sized bed in the residence. She prefers a queen, so she ordered its replaced. I can understand wanting a big bed, but (if you really like a small bed) couldn’t you just sleep on one side of the bed?
What I really find remarkable is the total absence of criticism of Obama for basically selling diplomatic posts to major donors — a practice that he certainly did not invent but he most certainly has continued. I have long found this practice obscene. I actually respect the amount of charity that Stroum has given and her success in life. However, our ambassadors should come from the State Department where they are trained to represent this country.
41 thoughts on “Obama Ambassador Leaves Office After Brief But Disastrous Tenure”
Diplomacy is an honorable profession, and those who serve as representatives of this country to other nations should be qualified for that purpose by training, experience and fluency in the language of the host nation.
Ms. Stroum is merely another millionaire who bought an ambassadorship to fulfill her princess fantasy. Presumably there was an assumption that even a complete ass would be unlikely to provoke war with Luxembourg.
Don’t worry. We durned furriners know of the Great US Tradition, centuries old, of appointing political donors to ambassadorships. We don’t take it personally.
Some (more than you think) are pretty good; many are duds but harmless; a few are completely shambolic, and get the chop ASAP. Either we chuck them out, or you do.
The worst such appointment was Joe Kennedy to the court of St James. You shouldn’t send donors to *important* stations. But that was a special case, his funding was so large he *had* to be given whatever he demanded, an ambassadorship to the UK, the hand of the king’s daughter in marriage, the firstborn son, whatever.
Even though he was highly Anglophobic, and a Nazi sympathiser. So blatant about both that no-one took him seriously, at least, not in the UK, he was isolated and worked around via back channels.
Meanwhile… we just shove ex-prime ministers, ex-leaders of the opposition and the like into such posts (often with the knives still embedded in their backs). The real work gets done by the professionals, but at least experienced politicians tend not to do too much damage.
(One of the few politicians who knows his onions, especially about defence matters)
Human Rights lawyer. Could be a lot worse, rather nice of Obama to reward a “personal friend” rather than some rich nonentity.
When you get the pretzels, invite George W. Bush over.
Two were all I could find … I may have missed one but I don’t think so. Seriously HenMan, after that beer-fest I knew we were doomed … no pretzels!
2 vetoes? Again with the George W. Bush imitations? Obama couldn’t pattern himself after Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt. He had to pick George H.W. and George W. Bush. Better he should have chosen Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. At least when they were funny, it was intentional. I’ll have to admit though- that “weapons of mass destruction” routine was hilarious. As the comedians like to say, “it killed!”.
Thanks for the veto information.
Several threats to veto … 2 actual vetos
I think you’re right about Obama and the veto pen. Can anybody refresh my memory- has Obama vetoed ANYTHING??
SM – yes, although Boy Blunder and his Super Friends had 6 years to restart the back ally trade & never even tried. I think they enjoy the issue too much to actually move on it.
And, while I agree with you that Obama wouldn’t WANT to end safe medical abortion he has left me with the impression that if the Republicans & Blew Dogs got together and passed a law he wouldn’t be so rude as to veto it or anything like that.
Works for me and seems to follow a logical path
So… if I donate enough money I can purchase an ambassador position?
Can someone spot me a few hundred grand please?
In my perfect world I do not see a need to have Senate confirmation, but in order to avoid that spectacle, maybe we need to have the Secretary of State appoint them.
Considering that the President appoints the Secy. of State (Senate Confirmation), appointing Ambassadors from the department seems a possible compromise … however, certain personalities need ego stroking and crave “titles” and paying for them, well …
I would agree that all Ambassadors should come from the State Department, but I believe the President should be able to appoint them from the State Department staff.
The State Department’s permanent staff have my full sympathy. Every four to eight years these highly trained individuals must adjust to whatever self-important yahoo the newly elected President places in their embassy. They’ve been handling these unqualified hacks for decades, over a century, and doing so in service to us and their country. Keep on keeping on … and thanks.
it’s not like luxembourg is going to declare war because of an inept ambassador.
she did collect the money and ambassadorships are mostly given as a political plums.
i’m with HenMan on this, i’ll bet plums grow in one of the stans.
(if they inport the water)
I don’t think her failings rise to the level of termination. I do, however, believe she should be transferred to the Ambassadorship of East Crapistan.
I believe all Ambassadors should come from the State Dept. ensuring the best representation of this Nation abroad as possible. I also understand that Presidents award donors with these placements and that the State Department has learned how to work with these mini-minds. It would appear that this woman was beyond the State Department’s ability to handle which is really saying something. I suspect her departure was not all that voluntary and that the State Department under Clinton knows how to dump a dimwitted donor disaster.
tomdarch and rafflaw
Very true. This is tame compared to some Ambassadors I’ve heard about from former embassy people. It’s still a pernicious practice and should be discontinued.
Mr. Obama continues to disappoint. One wonders who Mr. McCain would have appointed.
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