Last night I attended the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations annual holiday dinner where the guest speaker was Ambassador Ryan Crocker — what a distinguished career servant and diplomat for this country. So after spending an evening listening to this astute gentleman I found it truly interesting who we are about to send abroad to represent our nation.
As reported by the Washington Examiner, “Two of President Obama’s most controversial ambassador nominations are poised for any easy confirmation Tuesday after Democrats rallied behind them. The Senate on straight party lines Monday evening agreed to shut down debate and proceed to a final vote on the nominations of Colleen Bell, the soap-opera producer who created “The Bold and the Beautiful,” to represent the U.S. in Hungary, and Noah Mamet, a longtime Democratic operative, to serve in Argentina. Each raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election and has little to no overseas experience.
“The decades-long debate over the practice of naming big-money donors to represent the U.S. overseas flared up again earlier this year when Bell, Mamet and a third ambassadorial pick flubbed basic political facts about the countries they were picked to serve during their confirmation hearings.”
Now, this is something that others have done, but we were told that this would be a different administration. Furthermore, it seems Harry Reid is taking advantage of his change of the 60-vote threshold standard to a simple majority to push through these nominations — all in a lame duck session.
And of course the question looming is whether or not the incoming GOP Senate majority will restore the time-honored protection of the minority party in the Senate and reinstitute the 60-vote threshold? What would I do? Leave it as it is, and make the Democrats in the Senate own up to their hypocrisy.
In any event, it’s not just Republicans who are concerned about President Obama’s ambassador selections. As the Examiner reports, “earlier this year, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the union group for career diplomats, harshly criticized Obama’s appointments of a trio of campaign bundlers to key ambassadorships, including Bell and Mamet. In a rare move, the group filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the trio’s certificates of demonstrated competence, which all ambassador picks must submit to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to review before their nomination hearings.”
However, for some reason, AFSA has softened its stance. “AFSA has been very pleased with the work that the Senate has done on the last few weeks, coming together to confirm the backlog of career foreign service officers nominated to ambassadorial positions,” AFSA spokeswoman Kristen Fernekes told the Washington Examiner Monday evening. “We are continuing to watch the Senate and [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] closely.”
Not sure exactly why AFSA is all gung-ho. The Examiner says “Bell stammered and ended up failing to produce an answer when asked to identify U.S. strategic interests in Hungary, the central European country that shares a border with Ukraine. And Mamet testified that he has traveled extensively in his life — but not to Argentina.”
Hey, I’m a simple fella, so how about nominating me for Ambassador to the United Kingdom? I’ve been there AND I speak the language, matey.