The Feed

Map of Obama Bundlers Who are Now Ambassadors

Every president rewards some major campaign contributors by appointing them as ambassadors, but it’s not a practice that’s considered very beneficial for U.S. foreign policy. So when President Obama put up campaign bundler George Tsunis to become the U.S. ambassador to Norway — even though Tsunis himself conceded at confirmation hearings that he has little idea how Norway’s government functions or even the names of its major political parties — former diplomat and Lehigh University international relations professor Henri Barkey had had enough.

“President Obama does a disservice to Norwegians, to himself and, above all, to the people of the United States by sending such an unqualified person to represent him and us in the capital of a long-standing NATO ally,” Barkey wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, calling the appointment a “taxpayer-funded three-year junket to enjoy the fjords.”

George Tsunis will have lots of company: 23 current U.S. ambassadors or ambassadorial nominees are political appointees who were also major campaign-donation bundlers. As a way of seeing just how pervasive this practice is, Slate and the Center for Public Integrity put together this excellent interactive map showing them all (in green), as well as a selection of other political appointees (in red) and actual career diplomats (in blue). Here is a static grab of the map:

[. . .]

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

John Brennan’s Bad Behavior

My Bloomberg View colleague Eli Lake is right about this: "[W]hen Brennan uses his authority as a former CIA director to launch flimsy attacks on the president's legitimacy, he validates Trump's claim that the intelligence agencies are biased against him." Over the last two years the president's critics have ... Read More
White House

Bill Clinton Redux

Stormy Daniels could have stepped right out of the 1990s. She would have been a natural in a Bill Clinton scandal, and, in fact, all the same means would have been used against her. Donald Trump’s tactics in these cases are almost indistinguishable from the Clintons’. The effort to shut down the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

California’s Pro-Nuclear Renegade

If California’s upcoming gubernatorial race gets decided solely by money, Michael Shellenberger doesn’t have a chance. The latest campaign filings show that Shellenberger, an environmentalist from Berkeley, has about $37,000 in cash on hand. The frontrunner in the June 5 California primary, Lieutenant ... Read More

Encouraging Signs in Iraq

Last year, relations between the Iraqi central government and the Kurds reached what was possibly an all-time low when the Kurds held an independence referendum in which 93 percent of voters opted to secede. The timing was no coincidence: Iraqi forces had retreated from Kurdish territory in 2014 as the Islamic ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Do Not Congratulate

Do you want some good news out of the gargantuan budget bill now making its way through Congress? Buried among the mountains of pork and assorted unmentionables, there is one random provision I really like. It requires the Congressional Research Service -- which does a huge amount of very valuable policy research ... Read More
Film & TV

Superannuated ‘Idol’

In the pilot episode of Fox’s American Idol, Simon Cowell defined the show’s thesis: “We are going to tell people who cannot sing and have no talent that they have no talent. And that never makes you popular.” The show’s producers and its three judges -- Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson -- kept ... Read More