We 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.