Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rich Ambassador, Poor Ambassador

It was said of the plays of George Bernard Shaw - or was it Oscar Wilde? - that they consisted of "the obvious portrayed as the scandalous." I had the same reaction to this new report from the Center for Responsive Politics: Two Dozen Bankrollers-Turned-Ambassadors Bundled At Least $10 Million For Barack Obama. Really, does that sort of thing even count as news anymore?

By the Center for Responsive Politics' count, Obama has now nominated 99 people to represent the United States as ambassadors. These include ambassadors to foreign countries and more obscure top diplomats representing the nation to international organizations or championing issues such as war crimes prosecution, counterterrorism and AIDS.

The two-dozen bundlers elevated by Obama to serve in these diplomatic posts raised a minimum of $10.9 million for Obama's committees, the Center for Responsive Politics has found.

Since the Obama campaign only released information about its bundlers in broad ranges, this figure could be thousands, even millions, of dollars higher. The sum includes not only the dollar amount raised for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign committee, which you may view on here, but also the amount bundled for his presidential inauguration committee, per the records maintained by Public Citizen.

There's nothing to see here, people, so move along.

On the other hand, I thing there is something new to see in this brief observation from today's report:

Thirty-five of these ambassadors -- or about 35 percent -- are career members of the U.S. Foreign Service. Only one of these 35 people has any record of making any campaign contributions to federal candidates or committees.

Only one? What kind of impecunious diplomats do we have if only one of those career Foreign Service ambassadors has any record of political contributions? Or, if they aren't penniless, are they apathetic to domestic politics? This is embarrassing.

I'm not suggesting that aspiring ambassadors ought to start bundling funds from overseas interests, or anything like that. But, it would do them do harm to drop a hundred bucks or so now and then on their favorite candidates. Our elected officials never pass up a chance to add to their stash. And they have long memories.

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