Ambassadors: Rich People in Useless Jobs

If posts are just plums for political donors, why have them?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2009 2:11 PM CDT
Then-Utah Governor Jon Huntsman gives his acceptance remarks after his nomination by President Barack Obama as ambassador to China, May 16, 2009.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, FILE)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama opted for politics as usual in his ambassador appointments yesterday, writes David Rothkopf for ForeignPolicy. Like recent predecessors, Obama turned to deep-pocketed campaign donors; hence Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, will deal with a tech lawyer whose sole qualification seems to have been his ability to raise $500,000, while France gets a guy who used to run the Muppets. Which raises the question: Do we even need ambassadors?

“If a job is meaningless enough to be entrusted to someone who is unqualified to do it, do we really need to fill that post?” asks Rothkopf. Once upon a time, we needed ambassadors to carry vital messages, but technology’s progressed a wee bit. Other countries hate dealing with ambassadors—they’d rather call someone consequential at the State Department. Let's put highly skilled professionals in the important posts, and forget the rest.