Great news: New ambassador to China says he’s “no real expert on China”

posted at 12:01 pm on January 28, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

This time, the selection of a novice to a diplomatic post can’t be blamed on campaign-donor cronyism. Senator Max Baucus was supposed to be an easy confirmation ride for the Obama administration, thanks to the clubby Senate atmosphere. Unfortunately for Barack Obama, Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked what should have been a fairly easy question to answer for anyone who has studied our relationship with China in any depth. Baucus ended up admitting that he’s, er … not that guy:

Politico’s Alex Burns wonders:

Well, sure.  But then again, we’d assume that the first thing a nominee for ambassador to Norway would do would be to study its form of government and the current makeup of its governing coalition, too.  This is the second embarrassment for the White House on its diplomatic assignments in the last four days.

Norway is an important friend to the US, but the posting to China touches on issues of vast importance for the US in terms of trade, national security, and budget deficits. For instance, the US is currently fighting attempts from Beijing to force American journalists out of the country to keep them from reporting on these issues in depth. To say that this is an important diplomatic posting with a deep need for expertise in the issues involved is to offer a dramatic understatement. Yet the White House has nominated someone who apparently knows little about those issues. Why? Democrats wanted Gov. Steve Bullock to appoint a Democrat in Baucus’ place in order to get a leg up in the 2014 midterm race in what was going to be an open seat. Baucus got the appointment to get him out of the Senate now, rather than at the end of the session.

We’re used to rank politicization of ambassadorial posts, but the last few days show a breathtaking disregard of American interests in the furtherance of partisan benefit.

Update: One possible explanation, via Twitchy:

Update: Steve Bullock became governor of Montana earlier this month last year after Brian Schweitzer’s term expired. I’ve corrected my post above. My apologies for the error errors.


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Top. Men.

gwelf on January 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

What’s the big deal? It’s not…like…an important job or anything.

ElectricPhase on January 28, 2014 at 12:04 PM

At this point, what difference does it make.

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Obama’s no real expert at anything except self-promotion. Why should his picks be any better?

myiq2xu on January 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM

No real expert on health care policy either. That didn’t stop him though. And if past success predicts future outcomes, I think we should be just fine…

besser tot als rot on January 28, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Rookie…after 5 years, still a rookie.

right2bright on January 28, 2014 at 12:06 PM

And, we’ve already discovered that being an expert at anything of relevance in this admin is not an impediment to success, Bammy being the prime example.

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

The annoying thing about the nuked filibuster is that the LSM won’t even pick up these stories anymore. I just did a Google search for “Max Baucus” and not one result related to his statement of ignorance. I thought we had to nuke the filibuster for nominees so that the qualified could get through to their appointments.

blammm on January 28, 2014 at 12:07 PM

This imbecile is likely to get us into a freaking war with China!

Just when you thought it was impossible for this Administration to be more incompetent that it already is…

rockmom on January 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Obama’s no real expert at anything except self-promotion. Why should his picks be any better?

In fact, he won’t pick anyone that he thinks IS better. His ego wouldn’t stand for it.

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

…this crew in power…has no experts anywhere!

KOOLAID2 on January 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

“Well, I’m no expert on China, but I’m excellent at lying, misdirection, and party loyalty at the expense of the electorate.”

New Chinese Ambassador under a Democratic administration? Perfect fit, I say.
Welcome home, Comrade Baucus; welcome home.

orangemtl on January 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM

This imbecile is likely to get us into a freaking war with China!

Perhaps an intended unintended consequence.

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Sends a strong message to China.

Murphy9 on January 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Just lovely.

It’s almost like there’s a theme running here with this administration.

Bitter Clinger on January 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM

China: We bomb Japan tomorrow.

Max: Whoa, whoa, whoa — I’m just here for the travel. Here, let me get my deputy to write this stuff down. Hang on, he’s parking my jaguar and will be right back in a minute. Can I get you a coke or something while you wait?

Punchenko on January 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:09 PM

They’re going to need a “rally around the flag” moment just before the 2014 elections.

blammm on January 28, 2014 at 12:12 PM

There the VRWC goes in taking smart power out of context. Baucus may not be an expert on china but nobody is better than he in picking out flatware.

Happy Nomad on January 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM

He fits right in with the rest of Obama’s gaggle who are experts at nothing.

rplat on January 28, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Baucus, Kerry, Hagel, Obama…

It’s the reprobate dream team of intentional American foreign policy failure.

Murphy9 on January 28, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Send him to Norway

jake49 on January 28, 2014 at 12:18 PM

He won’t know the difference

jake49 on January 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

What? Lena Dunham wasn’t available?

blammm on January 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

ED I have to correct you here Schwietzer is no longer our Gov. Steve Bullock will be making the appointment.

Democrats wanted Brian SchweitzerGov Steve Bullock to appoint a Democrat in Baucus’ place in order to get a leg up in the 2014 midterm race in what was going to be an open seat. Baucus got the appointment to get him out of the Senate now, rather than at the end of the session.

MontanaMmmm on January 28, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Thassokay, 0b00ba doesn’t know anything about this country and look at the job he’s doing. Oh wait…

Akzed on January 28, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Top. Men.

gwelf on January 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Perfectly encapsulated.

Bitter Clinger on January 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Alex Coelho @apcoelho
Follow
But he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night MT @KevinMcLaughlin: Max Baucus, nominee for Amb. to China: I’m no real expert on China.

LOL tweet of the day

cmsinaz on January 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

he’ll be good at asking for more monies from them…

please sir, may we have more?

cmsinaz on January 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

We’re used to rank politicization of ambassadorial posts, but the last few days show a breathtaking disregard of American interests in the furtherance of partisan benefit.

Days? Try the last five plus years.

rbj on January 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Way cool – listen to the last line.

Schadenfreude on January 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM

What? Lena Dunham wasn’t available?

blammm on January 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Ambassadors can’t run around naked.

Happy Nomad on January 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Japan should have rejected the dumb Kennedy chick…after that, all is void.

Schadenfreude on January 28, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Lena Dunham wasn’t available?
blammm on January 28, 2014 at 12:19 PM

She wants to do China.

Akzed on January 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

I guess he’s trading in his boots.

Always was a lying azz.

“I just don’t want to die with my boots on,” Baucus said. “I’m a Montanan. I’m coming home to Montana. It’s my home.”

He said will be moving to Bozeman where he and his wife are having a house built.

“It’s not a retirement decision,” he said. “I will (still) be working very hard for Montana.”

http://helenair.com/news/state-and-regional/baucus-stuns-state-with-retirement-announcement/article_ce181af4-ac33-11e2-bf91-0019bb2963f4.html

MontanaMmmm on January 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Just lovely.

It’s almost like there’s a theme running here with this administration.

Bitter Clinger on January 28, 2014 at 12:11 PM

You’ve got me hummin’ Sondheim here….”Send in the Clowns”

Don’t bother, they’re here.

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

OT – look what’s going on as we type.

Schadenfreude on January 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Ambassadors can’t run around naked.

Happy Nomad on January 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Well, not officially, anyway.

hawkeye54 on January 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM

I have no complaint as long has the ambassador is not so involved with the country he is ambassador to that he forgets what country he is representing.

George Schultz had a way of reminding new diplomats of this:

“You have one more test to pass.”

“You have to go over to the globe on my desk and identify your country.”

agmartin on January 28, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Update: Steve Bullock became governor of Montana earlier this month after Brian Schweitzer’s term expired. I’ve corrected my post above. My apologies for the error.

Ed
Sorry to be so nit picky, Bullocks been in since Feb 2013.

MontanaMmmm on January 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

I agree with Obama’s so called pivot to Asia, and hope the U.S. strategic thinking moves away from the Middle East to a more Asian centric policy due to a more militaristic China.

With that said Obama is too incompetent to pull it off.

With Baucus as ambassador to China and Kennedy ambassador to Japan, add to that Powers, Kerry and Hagel this could end (slight as it may be) in one the greatest catastrophes in world history. Everybody made fun of Leon Panetta, Hillary Clinton (Benghazi included), Gates, etc., but they are light years more competent then the current crew running the show.

Folks it is Asia right now that has the greatest potential for a World War, not the Middle East. This is not a bunch uncivilized 7th rejects that are getting warlike.

William Eaton on January 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Ambassadors can’t run around naked.

Happy Nomad on January 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

What good is having diplomatic immunity if you don’t make the most of it?

blammm on January 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Sorry to be so nit picky, Bullocks been in since Feb 2013.

MontanaMmmm on January 28, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Don’t be sorry. I managed to boot a correction, so it’s me that should be sorry. I think it’s almost time for Holy Grail opening credits here …

Ed Morrissey on January 28, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Why not? Incompetence is a virtue in this administration. We don’t want anyone showing up The-Idiot-in-Chief.

GarandFan on January 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM

correction above: 7th century rejects…

Unlike the Muslim world, the Chinese, Japanese, Indians etc. are very much in the 21st century…including weapons.

William Eaton on January 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM

“I’m looking forward to moving to the historic capital, uh, Bone China.”

Dexter_Alarius on January 28, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Baucus can sell them the advantages of Obamacare and destroy their economy also. He did a great job here.

pat on January 28, 2014 at 12:47 PM

But he loves the food at Panda Express!

Ward Cleaver on January 28, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Top. Men.

gwelf on January 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Nice.

tommer74 on January 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

SMART POWER

SubmarineDoc on January 28, 2014 at 1:12 PM

DarkCurrent would make an excellent ambassador to China. They would have to object to their own propaganda, then lose face by expelling him after we refused their demands that we recall him.

Christien on January 28, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Well, the senator wasn’t exactly an expert on the ACA but he championed it and voted for it anyway. Starting to see a pattern here?

stop2think on January 28, 2014 at 1:42 PM

At least they’re consistent – nobody else in this regime has any real foreign policy experience, knowledge, or skills….

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:43 PM

We’re used to rank politicization of ambassadorial posts, but the last few days show a breathtaking disregard of American interests in the furtherance of partisan benefit.

Really? All of Bush’s appointments to the China post were political rather than career professional.

It’s pretty easy to analyze the number of political and career appointments for any admin. You make a valid point about these appointments but without any data your article is just more partisan sledging.

lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Really? All of Bush’s appointments to the China post were political rather than career professional.
lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Really? Bush appointed ONE guy, Clark Randt, as Ambassador to China, and he stayed there for Bush’s entire 2 terms.

And you think this background is purely political:

From 1968 to 1972, Randt served in the United States Air Force Security Service, and in 1974 he was the China representative of the National Council for United States-China Trade.

Randt was a resident of Beijing from 1982 through 1984 where he served as First Secretary and Commercial Attache at the U.S. Embassy. He then lived in Hong Kong for 18 years, most recently as a partner with the international law firm of Shearman & Sterling where he headed the firm’s China practice. Randt was Governor and First Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He is a member of the New York and Hong Kong bars and is a recognized expert on Chinese law. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Randt was nominated U.S. Ambassador to China by President George W. Bush on April 30, 2001 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 11, 2001. He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China on July 17, 2001 and arrived in Beijing on July 23.

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

DarkCurrent would make an excellent ambassador to China.

Christien on January 28, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Thanks for all this free rental space. Seriously :)

DarkCurrent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

The State Department was all giddy when Obama won the presidency in 2008. Everything would be run like all the liberals in the State Department thought it should be, no more George W. Bush. They could hit the restart button with every nation on this planet, say we are sorry for all the bad things that we have done and peace would bloom. Well, things have frankly, fallen apart all over the globe. Obama has done a great job in just screwing everything up. Today we have more flashpoints than ever that could lead to WWIII. And, one of those is China’s animus toward Japan for the treatment China received by Japan during WWII……………….which frankly China needs to get the hell over.

SC.Charlie on January 28, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Really? All of Bush’s appointments to the China post were political rather than career professional.
lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Really? Bush appointed ONE guy, Clark Randt, as Ambassador to China, and he stayed there for Bush’s entire 2 terms.

And you think this background is purely political:

From 1968 to 1972, Randt served in the United States Air Force Security Service, and in 1974 he was the China representative of the National Council for United States-China Trade.

Randt was a resident of Beijing from 1982 through 1984 where he served as First Secretary and Commercial Attache at the U.S. Embassy. He then lived in Hong Kong for 18 years, most recently as a partner with the international law firm of Shearman & Sterling where he headed the firm’s China practice. Randt was Governor and First Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He is a member of the New York and Hong Kong bars and is a recognized expert on Chinese law. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Randt was nominated U.S. Ambassador to China by President George W. Bush on April 30, 2001 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 11, 2001. He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China on July 17, 2001 and arrived in Beijing on July 23.

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

lol.

Murphy9 on January 28, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Has anyone told Max that he’d probably have to like, you know, live in China yet? He’s just going to oversee all the coal being shipped there from MT.

Kissmygrits on January 28, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Really? All of Bush’s appointments to the China post were political rather than career professional.
lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Really? Bush appointed ONE guy, Clark Randt, as Ambassador to China, and he stayed there for Bush’s entire 2 terms.

And you think this background is purely political:

From 1968 to 1972, Randt served in the United States Air Force Security Service, and in 1974 he was the China representative of the National Council for United States-China Trade.

Randt was a resident of Beijing from 1982 through 1984 where he served as First Secretary and Commercial Attache at the U.S. Embassy. He then lived in Hong Kong for 18 years, most recently as a partner with the international law firm of Shearman & Sterling where he headed the firm’s China practice. Randt was Governor and First Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. He is a member of the New York and Hong Kong bars and is a recognized expert on Chinese law. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Randt was nominated U.S. Ambassador to China by President George W. Bush on April 30, 2001 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 11, 2001. He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to China on July 17, 2001 and arrived in Beijing on July 23.

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Well done. The dangers of spouting off when you clearly haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about.

makattak on January 28, 2014 at 2:11 PM

And I missed a chance for snark:

Clearly lexhamfox is no expert on China Chinese Ambassadors.

makattak on January 28, 2014 at 2:13 PM

DarkCurrent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

LOL. We had to ring the bell twice. Bad dog.

Christien on January 28, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Well done. The dangers of spouting off when you clearly haven’t the slightest idea what you are talking about.

makattak on January 28, 2014 at 2:11 PM

And its not as if its all that tough to find out before you spout crap.
If asked who Bush appointed as Ambassador to China, I couldn’t have told you without doing a quick Bing or Google search myself – which I did – and it gives you the answer in about 5 seconds…..

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 2:17 PM

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

+1. We know there is a political patronage component to ambassadorships, but you rightly highlight the fact that real, substantive experience and expertise should play a bigger role.

We already have Ambassador Caroline “You know” Kennedy telling Tokyo to stop killing dolphins, and now we’re looking at sending Baucus to Beijing.

Good thing Japan-sino relations are going just swimmingly at present.

Christien on January 28, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Good thing Japan-sino relations are going just swimmingly at present.

Christien on January 28, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Uhhhh, ya, no kiddin’…..
What could possibly go wrong over there with such astounding intellects as Baucus and Kennedy as our ambassadors in those 2 countries?

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Yeah, but he had Kung pow Chicken last night, and ate almost all of it with chop sticks, so that puts him ahead of most of the appointees.

right2bright on January 28, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Incompetence has never been a barrier to employment in the Obama Administration; in fact, some might say it is a pre-requisite.

Another Drew on January 28, 2014 at 2:48 PM

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

OMG, carved him up like a Thanksgiving turkey…I doubt we will see, lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM, the rest of the day, he is under the porch licking his wounds.

Massive destruction, is your computer licensed as a deadly weapon?

right2bright on January 28, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Ambassadors can’t run around naked.
Happy Nomad on January 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM

There was talk about Ben Franklin in Paris…..

Another Drew on January 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Randt served in the United States Air Force Security Service

Do you know what the USAFSS did (it no longer exists as it has been renamed and restructured)?

Another Drew on January 28, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Massive destruction, is your computer licensed as a deadly weapon?

right2bright on January 28, 2014 at 2:51 PM

It really didn’t take that much.
Hopefully lhf will learn not to bring an anti-Bush rubber ducky to a gun fight though…..

“Engage brain before opening mouth.”
I don’t always succeed at that myself, but usually not that badly.

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Ambassadors can’t run around naked.

No; at least under this administration, they first have to be abandoned by their Administration, then DRAGGED around naked by terrorists, instead.
Hoping to see Mr Baucus get the strong, resolute and reliable backing enjoyed by Ambassador Stevens.
Because consistency.

orangemtl on January 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Yes, it was a political rather than a career diplomat appointment.

lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Great news: New ambassador to China says he’s “no real expert on China”

Mere subtleties. Understanding Marxist dogma and how to line your own pockets through much ass-kissing and lying are the only qualifications in the real “progressive” world.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 28, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Yes, it was a political rather than a career diplomat appointment.

lexhamfox on January 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM

So totally irrelevant that the guy Bush picked had decades of real world experience in and with China, a noted expert in their laws/legal system, and was fluent in their primary language?
Okaaaaaayyyyy – gotcha – if that’s what you consider a “political appointment”…..

dentarthurdent on January 28, 2014 at 3:42 PM

just checking: was this actually an honest statement from the Snake Pit..?

affenhauer on January 28, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Let me give you an example of Obama’s foreign policy plans…

He sent Biden, late last year, over to Japan, China and South Korea to smooth things over and all he did was make things worse!

He told everyone something different, and the only thing they all agreed on was Biden may be one of the dumbest people they have ever encountered.

Right now Obama is relying on Biden to prevent war in Asia. God help us all! The reason is apparently that Kerry does not do Asia…only the Middle East (and we have seen how that has all worked out).

Seriously all of us conservatives and libertarians are always saying America is doomed, because of the debt, the internal divisions, etc. We were wrong! Maybe Obama is going to get us nuked, which might be a better end frankly, quick and all. And we will have the satisfaction of seeing California get it first.

William Eaton on January 28, 2014 at 4:08 PM

No wonder serious people don’t take the US seriously anymore

DarkCurrent on January 28, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Like a lamb to the slaughter. That’s Obama’s criterion for ambassadors. Can we afford to lose him in an embassy attack?

flataffect on January 28, 2014 at 9:14 PM

This guy doesnt know shiite from shanghai.

malkinmania on January 28, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Would have asked Baucus “what is Chinese for ‘train-wreck’?”

virgo on February 1, 2014 at 2:36 PM