Friday, March 02, 2007

Diplomatic Moneymakers

This is really not much of a shocker, but George Bush is pushing an odd choice for ambassador to Belgium.

Sam Fox was major financial supporter of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Just last year, the group was forced to pay a large settlement to the FEC, for election laws violations.

In going through Senate interrogation, he had to face Sen. Kerry.

Answering Kerry's questions about the events of the last presidential election:

"You're a hero. And there isn’t anybody or anything that's going to take that away from you. But yet 527s tried to."

If only he had realized that a couple years ago, when it would have helped the process.
The senator then asked Fox how he could rationalize giving to 527 groups when he abhors them as a concept and thinks they should be banned.

"I did it because politically, it's necessary if the other side is doing it," Fox responded.

Senator Obama, who was chairing the hearing, said he found Fox's responses to Kerry's queries "unsatisfying."

"By the time you contributed, it was pretty widely noted -- it would have been hard for you to miss the fact that there was something particularly nasty and insidious about these ads," he remarked. "I don’t think you necessarily crafted the message but you certainly knew at that point what the message was."

Fox is a major supporter of the Republican Party, and his links to President Bush in particular are extensive. At the May 2006 Republican National Committee Gala, President George W. Bush called out Fox by name to thank him for being a chair of the event. He was also a co-chair of the Finance Committee for Bush's second inauguration.

While Kerry and Obama put Fox in the hot seat in the hearing, he also received praise. Former Senator John Danforth saluted him, along with Senator Joseph Lieberman, according to the Associated Press. They also reported that Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican of Minnesota, said "it would be a terrible shame" if Fox was disqualified because of his political donations.

I find it hard to have much sympathy for his dire straights. He bought into the system. And if you look at many of the Bush ambassadorial appointments, you will find a whole host of buddies, donors, and business friends.

That is my main problem. Why are we not picking trained diplomats? Skilled specialists? Is this how little we think of Belgium and the other countries that get the joke appointments?

And, you know, I am aware that it is not a new thing. It is a tried and true perk of the presidency.
But is that a good enough argument? Why do we work so hard to establish and maintain these perks.

At least, couldn't they hold these posts for extremely competent cronies?
How can I feel confident that things will stay calm in Cameroon, if they guy in charge got the job because he got the president a really great steak dinner? Don't know how on the mark that is, but the notion would almost seem to explain the last 100 years of diplomacy.

No comments: