Ambassadorships are the fairy dust of domestic goodwill for every President, and usually go to either big donors or prominent political supporters. While some go to professional diplomats, a significant percentage usually go to cronies for loyalty, both present and future. With that said, the latest trial balloon from State and the White House is a bit curious:
Caroline Kennedy is the “leading contender” on the short list of candidates President Obama is considering to be the next ambassador to Canada, a senior Democratic official tells Fox News.
Kennedy, the daughter of the late President Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has been a strong political and financial supporter of Obama. The confirmation that she’s being strongly considered comes as the Canadian press is abuzz about the possible picks.
In one sense, it’s not all that curious. Democrats have tried to get the daughter of America’s Camelot involved in politics for a number of years. The late Ed Koch exhorted then-NY governor David Paterson to “think of the DNA” when Paterson had to appoint a replacement for Hillary Clinton in the US Senate in early 2009. That idea died a quick death with the public when Caroline started publicly campaigning for the appointment, which went to Kirsten Gillibrand instead. Afterward, there was a brief push to appoint her as the American ambassador to the Vatican, which went nowhere much faster.
So, why curious? First, Kennedy doesn’t have any diplomatic experience, which isn’t disqualifying for US Ambassador positions for reasons I’ve already stated. But Kennedy’s background as a philanthropist and writer hasn’t had much to do with international relations at all, and nothing specific to Canada. Meanwhile, Obama has a much more high-profile candidate with a much better resumé — and who is Canadian by birth, rather than American political royalty, emphasis mine:
Canadian newspapers have been floating other possible candidates to the spot in the past few weeks. Among those rumored to be on the list: Former Washington governor Christine Gregoire, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, retired Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
There were few Obama supporters more, er, enthusiastic than Granholm. She pegged the needle on that score at the Democratic convention, and worked the stump for Obama in the 2012 election cycle. Furthermore, as Governor of Michigan, she has some experience in working with neighboring Canada on security and economic issues. She won’t be a threat to other Democrats looking for profile boosts heading into the 2016 presidential cycle because of her ineligibility for the office. Unless Kennedy is thinking about entering electoral politics, which besides her brief flirtation with the Senate appointment she’s avoided, why choose her over someone more prepared?
Of course, we said the same thing about Chuck Hagel and Michele Flournoy, too.