Obama's know-nothing ambassadors
President Obama's determined effort to find the most unqualified campaign donors he can possibly reward with important ambassadorial positions continues to bring comical, and disturbing, results. First there was the hapless boob he tapped for ambassador to Norway, top Obama bundler Geroge Tsunis, who might be able to find Norway on a map, but otherwise knows absolutely nothing about it whatsoever. The unamused Norwegians retaliated for the insult from Obama by nominating Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize.
ObamaCare perpetrator Max Baucus, a Democrat who fled the Senate after describing the crowning legislative "achievement" of his life as a "train wreck," declared he was "no real expert on China" when chosen to serve as ambassador to China. Naturally, his old chums in the Senate waved him right on through the confirmation hearings without a single dissenting vote, 96-0.
Then top Obama bundler Colleen Bell got the nod for ambassador to Hungary. As Henri Barkey at the Washington Post relates, Bell - whose resume, aside from handling big wads of cash for Barack Obama's political campaign, includes producing TV soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful" - couldn't answer basic questions about American strategic interests in Hungary, a NATO and EU member going through some troubling political crises at the moment.
And now Obama bundler Noah Mamet - good for a cool half million clams poured into the effort to keep the Empty Chair empty in 2012 - is off to represent the United States to Argentina, which turns out to be one of the few countries he's never visited. Argentina is currently suffering through end-stage Obamanomics, administered by the Southern Hemisphere's distaff version of our beloved Slayer of Jobs, so Mamet's political connections are probably sufficient qualifications in this case. Also, it's entirely possible he's attended a performance of "Evita," so it's all good.
Patronage is nothing new to ambassadorial appointments, but Obama certainly does seem to put effort into selecting unqualified people. And unfortunately, he's not very good at taking care of the qualified ambassadors that do work for him, as the Benghazi incident demonstrates. I notice his top bundlers aren't lining up for positions in which they might need to call him on the night before a big speech and cry out for rescue.
Henri Barkey at the Washington Post, who once worked in the State Department, makes a game effort to remind us that some patronage appointments work out pretty well, but he has to dig all the way back to the Clinton years to find an example. "Both Democrats and Republicans reward those who helped their campaigns," he continues, which is putting it mildly when talking about the barrels of taxpayer cash Obama rolled into the offices of billionaire George Kaiser, godfather of Solyndra. "But for a President who just told the nation of his commitment to reducing inequality, this practice of rewarding unqualified people, whose 'good deed' is to have bundled campaign funds, is particularly jarring." The Norwegians evidently agree.