The spoils of victory

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama promised to change Washington, D.C., but as president, Obama hasn’t changed one Washington tradition: giving prized ambassadorships to big political donors:

Of the nearly 80 ambassadorship nominations or confirmations since Obama’s Inauguration, 56 percent were given to political appointees and 44 percent have gone to career diplomats, according to records kept by the American Foreign Service Association.

While I certainly understand the desire of the president to reward those who supported his presidential campaign, ambassadorships aren’t always the ceremonial posts they may have been in years past. There are a myriad of issues ambassadors may have to deal with – issues like terrorism, human and drug trafficking, conflict between nations, and intelligence sharing – and so it makes sense to have ambassadors who understand their roles as ambassadors and who are up to the challenges they may face in those roles. Ambassadorships – no matter how cushy the assignment may be – should be qualified and knowledgeable, and most of all they should be deserving of their posts based on their knowledge and expertise, and not because they generated support or money for the president.


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7 thoughts on “The spoils of victory

  1. I am not sure what ambassadors do anymore. Help Americans with passport issues, yes, and, of course, when they get in trouble. How often are ambassadors instrumental in foreign policy initiatives? How often do they act as a conduit for government-to-government communication? Do ambassadors actually manage the embassy?

    I lost a lot of respect for ambassadors in the past twenty years because of the cronyism. It would be good to have my faith in the position restored.

  2. The whole Mark Green thing let a bad taste in my mouth on the ambassadors. Like his politics or not, Green had a better international resume than most, and a legitimate interest in Africa having spend a couple of years there as a volunteer teacher along with his wife. Dodd and Kerry played political games, holding his appointment up just because they could.

    1. Locke, agreed regarding Green. That’s an appointment that should have sailed through confirmation, regardless of his party affiliation.

  3. PB, my nephew works at the embassy in Thailand, I’d like to know what they do there myself. I’ll try to contact him and see what they do.

  4. PB he is A marine,he has been in Thailand for about 4 months in that time the ambassador has helped A few tourist out of trouble and kicked A tourist out of Thailand. He realy does’nt do much.

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