Friday, 24 January 2014

On the Subject of Ambassadors

The Senate is in the midst of approving the new US ambassador to Norway.  It's a bit of a farce.  Most ambassadorships.....are given as political gifts to folks who've helped a campaign, or did a favor for the President or his friends.  It's been that way for at least a hundred years, and generally....everyone just looks the other way and accepts the comedy of sorts.

This guy heading to Norway?  George Tsunis.  His connection to the President?  He helped to get $840-odd thousand dollars to the Obama campaign for 2012, and did another favor by supporting a PAC to the tune of $300-odd thousand dollars.  He's a 'gold-star' member of sorts.  So the nifty ambassador job in Norway is the gift in return.

The US Senate....for better or worse.....has to see these guys and put them through a question process.  It's typically a couple of hours in front of some committee.  They generally ask how your family is doing, what you thought of the Dodgers last year, your personal opinion on the economy, and your background.

The guy would usually get two or three hours of prep by some government guy who represents the White House.  They will tell him....this is what to say or not to say.  They will advise on stupid opinions, and how to just avoid them.  And usually.....a guy makes it through with no issues.

This week however....Tsunis met with McCain as the meeting progressed.  Senator McCain asked several simple questions on Norway.....mostly over the government, who runs things, and life in Norway.

Well.....it's more than obvious that Tsunis knows absolutely nothing about Norway, period.  Oh, he knows they speak Norwegian, and it's bitter cold.  But in terms of stuff you ought to know....if you were ambassador....it's a big zero.

What Tsunis's occupation in real life?  He's the CEO of Chartwell Hotels.  Chartwell....the name....comes from the old family home of Winston Churchill.....so it's a historic piece of a word.....tied to a hotel chain of sorts.  A big operation?  No.  There's roughly a dozen-odd hotels of fair character attached to the company.  Nothing outside the US.....at least right now.

What's this all add up to?  Well....it's a resume-builder....pure and simple.  You go off and do two to three years at some ambassador job.  The odds of you getting fired?  Maybe once every twenty years....someone has to retire quickly because they got caught doing something stupid.  The bulk of the political appointments seem to be an accepted practice.

I'm guessing that Ambassador Tsunis will arrive in Norway.....discover things are a bit more complicated than he imagined....but he realizes that there are forty-odd people who really carry the bulk of the ambassadorship and he's free for six hours of the day to sip coffee, read newspapers, and play tennis at some private club there in Norway.  Once a week....he gets an invitation to some private party (maybe the Greek ambassador inviting him over.....maybe the Japanese ambassador sending an invite.....maybe some Norwegian shoe company CEO sending an invitation over).  He'll stay somewhat busy and eventually wrap up his one brief moment in life where he really didn't have to work.

It'd be nice to reach this stage in life, and I admit....I'd kinda like to do this ambassador stuff.  But, to me....finding and giving some million dollars to some Presidential campaign....would be such a terrible waste.  Heck, a guy could go spend a million on Arkansas farmland, or buy a shrimp boat in Mobile, or buy up a pretty decent motel in Flagstaff, Arizona, or even open your own distillery and sell your personalized brandy to the public.  Why waste money for political folks?

I guess I'm not the type of guy bound for the ambassador trade.  I'm just too practical.

No comments: