President Biden’s ambassadorial picks reveal a rather disturbing strategy when it comes to the politics of diplomacy. Looking at many of his interesting choices they fall into two categories. First, as political payment for their support for his own political fortunes. Secondarily, as a reward to some of his more friendly “foes” who spoke in favor of his own political fortunes. Here are a few of these disturbing choices:
- Julieta Valls Noyes, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, as assistant secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.
- Massachusetts State Rep. Claire Cronin, a Biden fundraiser, as ambassador to Ireland.
- Bathsheba Nell Crocker, a longtime diplomat, and daughter of former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, as U.S. representative to the UN offices in Geneva.
- Denise Campbell Bauer, another campaign fundraiser and former ambassador to Belgium, to return as ambassador to France and Monaco.
- Thomas Nides, a Morgan Stanley executive and former senior State Department official, to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Nides was one of Biden’s biggest campaign bundlers during his presidential run.
- Cindy McCain, the widow of former Sen. John McCain, was placed to be ambassador to the United Nations’ food and agriculture program. Ms. McCain, a longtime Republican, supported Mr. Biden’s candidacy during the Democratic National Convention last summer.
- Biden’s pick Amy Gutmann for Ambassador to Germany raises a lot of questions – see here.
- Chantale Wong to be the ambassador-level position of U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank. If confirmed, Wong will become the first lesbian woman and the first out LGBTQ person of color in history to serve in a role of that level. Payment to the LGBTQ community for their support?
- Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator, and Interior Secretary is preparing to go to Mexico.
- Former Chicago mayor and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will be heading to Japan. Who would have thought a mayor of Chicago knew so much about Japan?
- Michael Adler, another big-dollar donor, slated for Belgium, as reported by the Washington Post.
- Eric Garcetti, who served as the co-chair of Biden’s presidential campaign, heads to India.
- Peter Haas, a career member of the State Department’s senior foreign service, Obama organizing for America leader, was tapped to become Biden’s ambassador to Bangladesh.
- Bernadette Meehan, currently the head of global programs for the Obama Foundation, to be his ambassador to Chile.
Then there is the latest Biden pick. Biden intends to nominate former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) as ambassador to Turkey, the White House said on Tuesday. The choice prompted Flake to say the following:
“With this nomination, the Biden administration reaffirms the best tradition of American foreign policy and diplomacy: the credo that partisan politics should stop at the water’s edge,” Flake said in a statement. He continues, “U.S. foreign policy can and should be bipartisan. That is my belief as well and my commitment.”
Flake’s comments are rich. Flake was a critic of former President Donald Trump and endorsed Biden in 2020. Ahhh … how sweet it is to get the payback of stabbing one’s own party to get a position. Here is a complete list of Biden Ambassador appointments. Perhaps you can spot more and put them on the list.
Every administration uses ambassadorships to reward big political donors. Perhaps this is not necessarily a new phenomenon, but under the Biden administration, political patronage has taken this notion to even higher levels. Biden along with others in the Democratic party follows a long line of political patronage behaviors. An analysis of political patronage in the Obama Administration found that over half of those fundraisers who raised over $500,000 for the Obama campaign had been given jobs within the administration and nine were appointed to Presidential boards and committees.
Perhaps you would like to be an Ambassador to something one day. Next time try dropping a few million into the fundraising efforts of the winning party of your choice. Stabbing your own party in the back works too.