The Foreign Service Journal, November 2013

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2013 11 Political Ambassadors: 20 and Counting S alon reported on Sept. 20 that Bruce Heym an, a veteran Goldman Sachs & Co. executive and major fundraiser for President Barack Obama, has been nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to Canada. The nomination represents a milestone for the White House: During the first eight months of his second term, Pres. Obama has already tapped 20 campaign bundlers for ambassadorships. Together, the nominees have raised at least $13.8 million—and likely much more—for Obama’s political committees since 2007, according to research by the Center for Public Integrity. And the total TALKING POINTS may be considerably higher, since the Obama campaign disclosed the data using broad ranges—the largest of which was simply “more than $500,000.” Two men—attorney Kirk W.B. Wagar and Matthew Barzun, who served as Obama’s 2012 national finance chair- man—each bundled at least $1.2 million for Obama’s committees over the years, records show, placing them atop the list of most prolific embassy-bound fund- raisers. Wagar is the U.S. ambassador to Singapore, while Barzun now represents America at the Court of St. James’s. On Sept. 10 alone, Obama selected three bundlers for diplomatic positions: hotel magnate George Tsunis for Norway, private equity executive Anthony Luzzatto Gardner for the European Union, and attorney Michael A. Lawson for the United Nations’ Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Salon notes that “Obama’s overall rate of appointing non-career ambassadors has remained in line with those of previ- ous administrations: about one in three, according to the American Foreign Service Association, the labor union and trade association for career diplomats.” But the Obama administration has so far not fol- lowed the usual practice of increasing the number of career appointments during a president’s second term. “Now is the time to end the spoils sys- tem and the de facto ‘three-year rental’ of ambassadorships,” declares the American Foreign Service Association website. “The appointment of non-career individuals, however accomplished in their own field, to lead America’s important diplomatic missions abroad should be exceptional and circumscribed.” White House spokesmen Eric Schultz says that Pres. Obama has nominated “tal- ented people from all across the country and all kinds of professional backgrounds” to represent the United States abroad. “Being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.” President Richard Nixon made an even more forceful argument during his 1975 grand jury testimony, which was unsealed in 2011 after a lawsuit filed by Public Citi- zen on behalf of several historians. “Some posts require wealthy people,” Nixon said. “Big contributors in many instances make better ambassadors, particularly where American economic interests are involved.” Conversely, Nixon derided career diplomats as “intellectual and emotional eunuchs, not worthy of representing the United States.” T he anonymous Sifter proclaims that this site has just one objective: “to educate, entertain and inspire each and every day.”While Twisted Sifter is primarily geared to visual learners, there is plenty of content, too. The site features three new posts daily, in addition to regular additions under the following headers: Art, Travel, Nature/Space, Architecture, Animals, Sci/Tech, History and The Rest. You can sample the Picture of the Day to whet your appetite, or feast on the Best Of if you’re hungry. And each Friday, the Sifter publishes the Shirk Report , a weekly collection of the 25 funniest images, 10 most interesting articles and five most entertaining videos. Visitors are welcome to contribute material. One recent posting that may be of special interest to Journal readers is 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World. This includes depictions of “The Only 22 Countries in the World Britain Has Not Invaded (not shown: Sao Tome and Principe),”“Global Internet Usage Based on Time of Day,”“The Most Dangerous Areas in the World to Ship Due to Pirates” and “Visualizing Global Population Density.” — Steven Alan Honley, Editor SITE OF THE MONTH: Twisted Sifter