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Montevideo, November 15th 2018 - 11:11 UTC

Finally Argentina will have a US ambassador: he never visited the country or speaks Spanish

Wednesday, December 3rd 2014 - 07:36 UTC
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Noah Mamet, a bundler, is a consultant and was confirmed in a vote of 50 to 43 nays, despite sharp criticism by Republicans Noah Mamet, a bundler, is a consultant and was confirmed in a vote of 50 to 43 nays, despite sharp criticism by Republicans
US diplomats called on the Obama administration to appoint ambassadors who have an “understanding of host country” and “high level policy operations” US diplomats called on the Obama administration to appoint ambassadors who have an “understanding of host country” and “high level policy operations”

The United States Senate confirmed soap opera producer Colleen Bell to be the next U.S. ambassador to Hungary and political consultant Noah Mamet to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Argentina on Tuesday. Neither of the two newly-confirmed Ambassadors are career diplomats, but both raised millions for President Obama's Presidential campaigns.

 Noah Mamet, a bundler, is a consultant and was confirmed in a vote of 50 to 43 nays, despite sharp criticism by Republicans for not having ever visited Argentina or speaking Spanish.

“He's very excited to do that,” State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters and then said prior travel is not a job requirement or an indicator of success.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement condemning the Obama administration's decision to “push through” the nominees.

“It is disappointing that in a transparent move, the White House and the Senate majority leader have chosen to prioritize doing political favors instead of working with Congress to confirm professional diplomats, further delaying our ability to fill important positions around the world,” he said.

Bell, a bundler for the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns, is a producer of “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which airs on CBS. The Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed her with a vote of 52 to 42 nays.

Earlier this year, Bell struggled to name the U.S. strategic interests in Hungary when questioned during a hearing by Senator John McCain, R-Arizona. That prompted McCain to call Bell “totally unqualified” to represent the United States in Hungary, a country he referred to as “very important” to U.S. national security, particularly given rising Russian influence in Eastern Europe.

State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf disputed McCain's criticisms and cited Bell's work as a civic leader, trustee and working mother as unique qualifications.

The union that represents the career diplomats who make up the foreign service, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), issued guidelines earlier this year calling on the Obama administration to appoint ambassadors who have an “understanding of host country” and “high level policy operations.”

In addition, AFSA asked the administration to abide by a 1980 law (Section 304 of the Foreign Service Act) that states that “contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission.”

Typically, presidents abide by the “70-30 rule,” an unofficial guideline which stipulates that the majority of ambassador posts go to foreign service professionals while around a third of them can go to non-career appointees. Since Mr. Obama came to office, around 37% of his appointments have been so-called “political appointees.” That's a higher number than Presidents Clinton and both Bushes but lower than Presidents Carter and Reagan.

Top Comments

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  • Britworker

    Never been to Argentina and doesn't speak Spanish? They gave that one a lot of thought didn't they. Presumably he has lots of experience with dealing with neurotic women?

    Dec 03rd, 2014 - 09:13 am 0
  • HansNiesund

    They most certainly did give it a lot of thought. A soap opera producer is an ideal and sensitive choice.

    Dec 03rd, 2014 - 09:25 am 0
  • Frank

    Maybe they have sent all their good diplomats to important countries.

    Dec 03rd, 2014 - 09:35 am 0
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