As Jay Carney so eloquently put it during yesterday’s press briefing in regards to the several well-heeled Democratic donors the president has lately picked out for ambassadorship positions, “being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.” …Yes, we’d noticed, but as Jon Stewart put it on his show last night, “is there a rule ambassadors can’t have set foot in the countries they are going to ambassador?”
Historically, there is a pretty rich tradition of presidents picking well-connected and well-monied friends and donors who fancy a career change for the most glamorous ambassadorships, and indeed, for a while at least, it wasn’t necessarily the worst system ever created. The idea was that certain countries might actually prefer someone who has the president’s direct ear rather than a career diplomat — but does President Obama really even know these guys in a useful way? The record fundraising level of his reelection campaign created quite the jockeying for position among his many mega-donors, and it definitely looks like the system has gotten more shady and transactional than ever under his leadership. By a long shot.
Addendum: Seriously, the whole thing is just getting painful. Go read this facepalm-worthy piece from Jeffrey Goldberg over at Bloomberg, but here’s an excerpt, emphases mine:
…I suspect that McCain decided to meet the press in Budapest mainly so that the delegation would be asked questions about a woman named Colleen Bell.
Who is Colleen Bell? Bell is a soap opera producer — “The Bold and the Beautiful” is her masterwork — who was nominated by Barack Obama’s administration to serve as U.S. ambassador to Hungary. Bell, one of Obama’s larger fundraising “bundlers,” bought this nomination with more than $500,000 of mostly other people’s money.
At her confirmation hearing last month, McCain asked Bell an exceedingly simple question: “What are our strategic interests in Hungary?”
She gave the following imperishable answer: “Well, we have our strategic interests, in terms of what are our key priorities in Hungary, I think our key priorities are to improve upon, as I mentioned, the security relationship and also the law enforcement and to promote business opportunities, increase trade– ”
McCain interrupted her: “I’d like to ask again what our strategic interests in Hungary are.”