Obama Criticized For “Selling” Ambassadorships To Highest Donors

President_Barack_ObamaAmerican diplomats are condemning what they view as President Barack Obama’s selling ambassadorships to high donors. This has long been a problem, which I criticized in earlier administrations, and Obama supporters are likely to return to the refrain that he is just doing what his predecessors did. That is never a very satisfying answer. This is a form of corruption as presidents give high diplomatic posts to people who give them loads of money. Obama has apparently expanded on this sordid practice to a level that is alarming diplomats. The fact is that all ambassadorships should be confined to people selected for their diplomatic skills, preferably from the ranks of our career diplomats or academia.

For years, I have been in conversations with people close to the White House and President Obama who openly discuss the amount of money required to secure an ambassadorship. Just last week a ranking Democratic operative told me that a friend had put together around $2 million in donations because he was told that “the price had gone up.”

That is the very point of the article below where it is being reported that the price is up to $1.8 million. It is not clear why the White House does not simply post the price list on the website to facilitate these purchases. I recently gave a speech and had dinner with a major donor who said that he gave “his” ambassadorship to his wife. She loved being called an ambassador.

Some donors raise so much that they are allowed to travel around the world playing ambassador. Obama’s campaign finance chairman, Matthew Barzun, was given the choice diplomatic post at the Court of St James’s, which comes with a residence with a garden that is second only in size to that of Buckingham Palace. He just finished a stint as ambassador to Sweden.

Thomas Pickering has denounced the practice as “simony” or the selling of public office. He is obviously right that “it has the effect of diminishing perhaps the sense that the US is treating these countries with the respect they deserve.”

Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), has also denounced the record of Obama in these dubious transactions.

I remain astonished that we have allowed this practice to continue. Obama apologists have to do more than simply say that he is simply following the same corrupt practices of his predecessors. It appears that he is a standout in the selling of public offices.

Source: Guardian

99 thoughts on “Obama Criticized For “Selling” Ambassadorships To Highest Donors”

  1. Well actually Bron, I believe only Asian drivers need to be tested rigorously and licensed. However, that would be discriminatory.

  2. nick:

    you big government lug, you. ­čÖé

    why do we need a drivers license? That is just state papers.

  3. Bron, The more open the govt. records, the less likely corruption will infect the government. It is no vaccination from corruption, but it makes it more difficult to corrupt. I’m not talking about the small potatoes stuff that has justa in a tizzy, I’m talking about big time corruption. I don’t know how long you’ve been in biz, but I have seen public access to records go from literally looking through huge books w/ records going back to the 1800’s to what we have now.

    Marriage licenses are somewhat archaic. But, they are so entwined in our legal and social culture I don’t see them going away anytime soon. I don’t agree w/ you on DL’s.

  4. Riesling, More parents choose that option every year. I have a friend in Seattle who was a college professor. She would have students come to her class[Kansas University] who could barely read and write. She moved to Seattle a while back to get married. With her disgust for how public schools were not teaching kids, she started a biz supporting home school parents. It has grown exponentially.

  5. nick:

    I am an engineer and I have a paid subsription with which I can access county records for all types of things although I use it for land issues only. To get plats and deeds mostly.

    All those records are publically available. I dont think we should need to register with the state to get married or to get a drivers license but that is another conversation.

    mangia bene!

  6. justa, We are operating @ different levels. Now, I know little about you and understand and respect that. Since you’re a teacher, statistically it’s ~80% chance you’re female. And that is corroborated by some of what you’ve said. I have answered all your questions but one. And, I don’t begrudge any question asked. As I taught my students, people have every right to ask any question and we have every right not to answer.

    You’re starting to get petty. The Leavenworth thing was just 1[one] example of what I know from the real world and I took it from your erroneous comment. Secondly, I never had my students watch OZ, they just would and ask me questions about it. I wouldn’t allow much time, but am I not obligated to answer a kids legit question? And, the kids I would PULL ASIDE were kids w/ criminal records or ankle bracelets for home monitoring. I doubt you taught high school, and if you did maybe where all the children are white, upper middle class, and respectful. But, I don’t know..just guessing. I have dealt w/ virtually every government agency from local to Fed. I know more about government than probably 98% or more of the population. I bit my tongue awhile back because some of your questions showed your absolute lack of understanding of open records. Thinking, marriage, birth, marriage, driver’s license, criminal records are, or should be, confidential is beyond na├»ve. I’m discussing a topic w/ a person who is uninformed and na├»ve, but doesn’t lack an ounce of condescension.

    As you might imagine justa, I’ve had this discussion w/ folks like you in other forums and venues. They rode a high horse like you, and some were even more uninformed. Ironically, those folks rode the highest horses. A couple were doctors who knew nothing about the legal system but were not averse to pontificating on it. That’s human nature, of which I spent my career becoming an expert. I would like to leave it the way I have left it w/ other folks. When you are being sued by some shitbird, who is lying and committing fraud. And your ass is on the line for a lot of money. Or, when you’re suing some corporation for injuring you or your family, and they’re using high priced attorneys to overwhelm you, can I reserve the right to ask your thoughts on my tactics then. NOT NOW…THEN! Because you see, if you have a good, honorable, saavy attorney, I’m the guy he hires. Litigation isn’t checkers. It’s a combo of chess and hardball. I truly hope your ass is never in a litigation fire. Believe me, it REALLY sucks. Finally, how do the politicians you vote for, and maybe contribute to, live up to your “lofty” standards? I’m a choir boy compared to politicians. I did some political work early in my career when I couldn’t afford to turn down work. I had a family to feed. After a few cases I never took another one. And, I’ve done a lot of work for government agencies when they are sued. They are the most ruthless, cutthroat defendants out there. Well, maybe Big Pharma is worse. I did some Big Pharma work when Prozac first came out and they were getting sued a lot. They are beyond ruthless.

  7. Now you’ve got to excuse me Nick. As the good Charley Pierce would say: I got to go drink a quart of Prestone.

  8. Nick

    Spinelli Lesson Plan. American History

    Today students in discussing Gettysburg we will focus on the most IMPORTANT ISSUE:

    Leavenworth Prison, which is not to be mistaken for Ft. Leavenworth and why you never, ever, want to find yourself incarcerated in Leavenworth Prison but it’s ok to be stationed at Ft. Leavonworth and that Leavenworth Kansas is a little town in Kansas and the way we can, and cannot, compare it to the town of Gettysburg which also has had some important things happen in it, BUT nothing that is as important to you and our REAL world as what happens in the prison known as Leavenworth. And I know this cause I once talked with a real nice warden and had the honor of being employed by the Prison Leavenworth where I learned life could be really hard – even harder than what the soliders faced – the ones in Gettysburg, not Kansas, – as they marched into the guns of the enemy. (They do some marching in Leavenworth, The Fort, too, but we’ve got too much to cover today and we will have to hold that lesson until tomorrow when we discuss the Gadsden Purchase and how to get a really good deal at Walmart.

  9. Nick,

    The topic was corruption.

    In trying to learn about corruption you offered your experiences as a PI and your definition of corruption. That definition is quite wrong..

    I have not called you a bad citizen. I would say that you are a man who has some fine qualities but you do not understand citizenship and its role in a society that strives for the human good.

    IT IS ABSOLUTELY IDIOTIC to conclude that I thought the “Art of the PI” should be taught in history class. And given that you believed it your moral duty to teach kids according to life as lived in Oz, I guess you were teaching in the prison we saw in Midnight Express.

    For American kids? Not so great.

    I’m not thrilled with your reading skills, either. And I wish you could find a priest or a judge or a fine teacher to talk about morality, ethics, the law and the role of the citizen. Record the sessions. Have your wife write the book. I’ll buy the first copy. I know it won’t be boring.

  10. Oh, and you are wrong. I called it Leavenworth Penitentiary. That is the Federal Prison. Fort Leavenworth is the US Army Disciplinary Barracks. Having lived and worked in the real world all my students knew the difference between the two. To be fair to you, you’re not a “bad citizen” or teacher for not knowing that. I bet 95% of the people in the country don’t know these are 2 separate entities, in the same town. However, my students know that. And, they also know Leavenworth, Ks. is really a prison town. It’s not very big but has 4 prisons, also a Kansas State male and female prison.

  11. justa, Please. What I was saying was I did not teach them how a PI goes about his/her business in the way you find so horrible. It wasn’t age appropriate. But, I certainly would have loved a college professor to teach me that. And to continue calling me a “bad citizen” is judgmental, offensive and wrong. I have volunteered my entire life, tutoring and coaching kids. I was a Vista volunteer. My wife and I raised an emotionally disabled adopted son from Colombia, travelling there in 1987 when it was a zone I taught my students real world experience about civics, law, prison, government that virtually no other teacher could. Learn how to read!!

  12. Nick,

    Age inappropriate?

    Fourteen year olds are not old enough to learn about citizenship, American law, and ethics? But a cleaned up OZ is your moral duty? What the hell kind of history class were you teaching?

    Oh wait. I forgot. History as gleaned from the halls of Ft. Leavenworth.

    I guess that was a couple of generation of kids that got left behind…

    Will somebody give Elaine a call? She’s got to be having some kind of angina attack about now.

  13. justa, I NEVER taught my kids about the topics we had discussed. It was not age appropriate. However, In my original stint in college I got a BA in Criminal Justice. Almost all the classes were theory, which I understand, that’s important. But, we needed some practical info and got little. I had one professor who was a retired warden. He was well educated, well informed, and great @ interjecting the real world information into the curriculum. As you might imagine, real world information about prisons is a helluva lot uglier than of what we discussed to date. Well, my first job after Vista was working @ Leavenworth Penitentiary. That real world information was invaluable to me. What I was able to teach my students @ a high school level was real world experience about government, courts, criminal and civil, sans the info you find so shocking. I taught them about prisons. I had to clean it up, but I gave them some reality. Of course, they could watch OZ and get the picture more graphically. I would pull aside at risk kids I could see on that path to prison and give them the unabridged truth. I felt that was my moral duty.

    Here’s what is sort of mind boggling to me. There are PI’s that tap phones, bug houses and offices, hack computers, etc.. I know some. I would NEVER deal w/ them. If someone called me for that kind of work, and I got many calls, I would decline and not even refer them to the people I knew did it. Everything is relative. However,I would suggest you reserve at least some outrage for that ilk. I have long thought some information should be taught to law students on what PI’s do. Because believe me, when they’re rookies, and have poor mentoring, they are as na├»ve as you are.

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