Bundling Diplomacy: Obama Places Two Fundraisers In Key Ambassadorships

President_Barack_Obama250px-Theboldandthebeautifullogo2004We have previously discussed how President Obama continues to reward donors with ambassadorships, including some with little background or known talents for the jobs. I have long been a critic of this practice and I remain astonished that the American people allow it to continue. However, fat cat friends are often given trivial ambassadorships like the Vatican or smaller nations. It is still not a good practice but the damage is limited. Obama however have been handing out major posts to those who give him or the DNC millions in bundled dollars. This week the Senate confirmed two nominees to Argentina and Hungary that should outrage people who believe diplomacy should be left to diplomats and do not believe that such posts should be handed out as favors to wealthy friends. It is a national disgrace but we have become accustomed to the effective selling of these government offices. It certainly conveys a truly insulting message to these two countries that neither they nor their problems amount to much of a priority for the United States.

We previously discussed the controversial nomination of major donor Noah Mamet to the top post in Argentina despite the fact that he had never been in the country and does not speak Spanish. You may recall that Argentina is in the midst of serious economic and political upheaval and that a rift is growing between our two countries. It might be a good time to send a trained expert who can speak the language. President Obama sent a bundler instead.

Obama has also succeeded in his appointment of Colleen Bell, a former producer for the TV soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” to the top post in Hungary, a nation that is one of the most important spots in Eastern Europe. Hungary is drifting back into the Russian orbit and its leader has stripped away constitutional rights while embracing Vladimir Putin. The loss of Hungary is a serious threat in the balance of the region which is already reeling from the Ukrainian conflict and an arms build up. So President Obama is sending the former producer of “The Bold and the Beautfiul.”

Mamet was confirmed as ambassador to Argentina by a vote of 50-43. Bell was confirmed as ambassador to Hungary by a vote of 52-42.

More than 40 percent of Obama’s second-term picks for diplomatic posts have reportedly been political nominees. Yet, there is virtually no serious coverage in the mainstream media despite past disasters with donors made diplomats.

Ethical relativists of course shrug and just say that people are naive in objecting to such practices. However, this is in my view an easy test for any administrative committed to good government. Years ago, I was at a dinner with an extremely wealthy Democratic donor was talking about how easy it is to get one of these posts if you give enough money to the President’s campaign and how he passed the position to his wife who is delighted to now be called “Ambassador.”

In response to criticism by Senator McCain (particularly to giving away a post like Hungary to a donor), the White House responded that President Obama does not take such nominations “lightly.” No one of course would think that . . . each of these nominees gave at least $500,000 or more.

71 thoughts on “Bundling Diplomacy: Obama Places Two Fundraisers In Key Ambassadorships”

  1. Eric, that is another quality of this president , that he has actually made the ones that he criticized severely, look much better than they really were, obviously that is my opinion and you may not agree with it.

  2. R2d2: “He could have shown the world very easily how America can be governed much better, it would not have been very hard after at least the drama of the last two presidents .”

    That’s an interesting framing because it raises the question: how much of the criticism of Bush and Clinton’s governance, respectively, was more dramatic than substantial? By the same token, how much of the belief that “[Obama] could have shown the world very easily how America can be governed much better” is due to an expectation derived from Obama’s dramatic appeal rather than his governing substance?

    Obama was elected with a narrative that elevated him and degraded both his opponents and his predecessors while raising the expectation he would show “how America can be governed much better”. But how true and substantial, or illusory, was that narrative actually?

  3. At least the Republicans did not add to their record setting filibusters and actually allowed a vote on these appointments.

    So. It is better to just acquiesce, give in, and pass through knowingly unqualified people for office, than it would be to require actually qualified candidates?

    Appeasement and getting along instead of insisting that the vetting process be thorough and that able, knowledgeable and qualified people be appointed. This is a good thing in your eyes?.

    I don’t care which party is in office, they have a duty to make sure that the people they put into these important positions of power have the ability to function and aren’t vanity appointments or appointed because they paid the most money for the position.

    We elect our representatives to represent US and not to just rubber stamp the powers that be in office. If they have to fight about it. GOOD. That’s what they are supposed to do in order to make sure we have the best people in the position that they are applying for.

    1. DBQ – we elect them to office, they are not ‘required’ to represent us. They are allowed to vote as they want. If we do not like that, we de-elect them next time around. Or recall them. Cannot remember if you can recall a Senator.

  4. Paul… I was being a bit sarcastic regarding the fine Senator’s no vote!

    Perhaps the Republican Senators realize some governmental positions are more important than others. In relation to that, I have two words you may remember… Robert Bork.

    Additionally… There has been no true filibuster of the surgeon general nominee. There has been a “threat” of calling for one, but truthfully since Harry Reid changed the filibuster rules, HE has been the one failing to call for a vote on the nomination for strictly political reasons. His internal numbers likely showed several Democrats would vote no.

    I’ll be interested to see if Mr. Reid’s opinion of the filibuster changes in January 2015.

  5. His strength is to fool a vast number of people into thinking that he is someone who he is not . He could have shown the world very easily how America can be governed much better, it would not have been very hard after at least the drama of the last two presidents . But despite the obvious bankruptcy of the character he continues to have atleast 40% people approve of him , that to me is his asset or the flaw of his admirers .

    1. r2d2 – didn’t someone make the mistake of being recorded saying there was 43% of the vote they would never get running against Obama. 43% is about where his popularity numbers hover.

  6. K.Drazkowski,

    I believe Professor Turley’s point is that President Obama is placing unqualified ambassadors in “major posts”.

  7. Paul C. Schulte,

    Never say never:


    Peyton Manning: “[Tom] Brady said he was going to play until he … sucked. That’s a pretty good line. I’m kind of the same feel. I don’t have a set number. … Yeah, right until you suck — I think that’s a pretty good rule right there.”

    1. Has anyone run for office since the started getting the big retirement packages and speaking fees?

  8. Of the last seven presidents, 67.54% were career Foreign Service and 32.54% were ‘political’ appointees. President Obama stands at 35.2%.

  9. It’s more than just winning elections; it’s how those elections are won and that is his strength. He and his party are masters at dividing and conquering the electorate.

  10. wrxdave… Your last post was exactly right.

    When it comes to “problems” needing to be “fixed” the least effective thing is a big government program designed to address it. The government (i.e. politicians specifically) are truly not interested in measurable results… it is only the “intent” that matters.

    I would challenge anyone to name one big federal social program that is accomplishing the goal it was established to meet while not being fraught with fraud, massive cost overruns, and abuse.

    Once established, the politicians will willingly (for decades) throw trillions of taxpayer dollars into programs that are not even remotely correcting the problems they were created to address.

    When it comes to government, “intent” trumps “results” every time!

  11. USN420,
    At least the Republicans did not add to their record setting filibusters and actually allowed a vote on these appointments. Something they haven’t done for the Surgeon General.

  12. I blame his behavior on the current crop of both republican and democratic leaderships . A strong republican leadership could hand kept him in check and exposed his behaviors better to put fear in him . Similarly , if democratic leadership in the senate and house had more respect for the country than to support its president , he could not have been so corrupt despite the support of corrupt MSM . I can only hope that the new members of the senate and house know how to deal with a president and his party like the current one more effectively !

  13. The voting on these two “Ambassadorships” is very telling… like most things in Washington these days… Strictly partisan. Perhaps the “R’s” just voted no because it was Obama’s nominee… Perhaps the nominees are people unqualified people to represent the United States abroad. Who knows?

    On the Hungary nomination the vote was 52-42 with 6 members not voting. The 52 yes votes were all democrat. The 42 no votes were all republican.

    On the Argentina nomination the vote was 50-43 with 7 members not voting.
    One democrat (Heinrich – NM) voted no. (He probably hit the wrong button by mistake!)

    1. USN420 – you get to change your vote if you hit the wrong button, so we can be pretty certain that Heinrich meant to vote against the nomination.

  14. The war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on terror – nine were ever meant to be wars that were “won”, none meant to attack the root causes of the problems.

    All were “fought” using the same general strategy of create huge federal government agencies and budgets to fight the war forever, attacking symptoms, generating headlines and occasionally panic; all the whole convincing enough of Americans that they are so very essential that not only do they need tax dollars so they can keep being funded – they need tax increases and major deficit spending so we can spend prodigious amounts of money fighting the symptoms.

    No – these are not wars to be won.

    Whenever the Federal Government declares “War” on a problem, you can know two things – it will never be solved, and just turn around and spread your cheeks, because you’re going to have to pay for it (forever).
    Make that 3 things – your Civil Liberties are going to take a beating as well.

  15. Paul:

    It’s interesting you brought up Obama’s father. I haven’t spoken about this before, but it struck me how he didn’t write, “Dreams of my Mother” who raised him, but rather wrote about his father who left them, and was already married when he married his mother (if I remember correctly.) Some kids do that, focus and yearn for the absent father without realizing their mom had to fight tigers to keep them fed and sheltered.

    I’ve never read the book, just excerpts, so for all I know, the entire thing could be an homage to his mother.

    1. Karen – best evidence is that Bill Ayers “I barely knew Obama, he was a guy who lived down the street” wrote the fictional autobiography. At one point he actually admitted it, but it was under strange circumstances, so you have to rely on the forensic evidence in the book itself.

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