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Reporter: ‘How Much Does It Cost’ To Get An Obama Ambassadorship?’ State Department: That’s A ‘TV Question’

February 7, 2014 by  

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki could only giggle and dissemble Friday when ABC News’ Jonathan Karl inquired about President Obama’s recent spate of ambassadorial nominees – all top Obama campaign bundlers – who’ve embarrassed themselves and the Nation by demonstrating they know less than nothing about the countries where they’re headed.

After Psaki attempted to wave off Karl’s original question – whether rudimentary knowledge of a host country is important when the Obama Administration considers a nominee to an ambassador’s post – Karl persisted: “[Most of these [nominees] gave hundreds of thousands of dollars or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Obama campaign. How much does it cost to become an ambassador, to be named ambassador, in the Obama Administration?”

Here’s the relevant portion of their exchange (H/T The Washington Free Beacon for the transcript):

So I mean, as you know, there’s been some criticism that — of the specific qualifications of some of the recent nominees. I mean, George Tsunis didn’t seem to even know what type of government Norway has, called one of the members of the ruling coalition a fringe element. So I’m wondering does an — does an ambassador have to have at least some basic knowledge of the country that he is going to?

PSAKI: Well, I think ambassadors go to countries — obviously that’s the goal — but the ambassadors go to countries to represent the United States, to be a resource to people on the ground. We’ve seen those reports. We’ve all read them. But I would encourage people to give those who have had tougher hearings a chance to go to their countries and see what their tenure will entail. And the judgment can’t be made about how effective they’ll be or how appreciated they’ll be by the government until we have that happen.

KARL: So right now you have — the percentage is 37 percent, which is considerably more political appointees than George Bush had, considerably more than Bill Clinton had. And I’m going through the list. I mean, most of these gave hundreds of thousands of dollars or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Obama campaign. How much does it cost to become an ambassador, to be named ambassador, in the Obama administration?

PSAKI: Jonathan Karl, always a TV question. We don’t determine –

KARL: Well, it’s serious because –

PSAKI: I’m not — I’m not — it is a serious question. We don’t name ambassadors from the State Department. The White House names ambassadors, so I would certainly point you to my old colleagues across the street for that. What I was conveying is that from the State Department point of view there have been many, many political ambassadors, people who have come from a range of histories and backgrounds, who have been very successful and worked very effectively in these roles.

How did she manage to say nothing in that many words?

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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