Prior to the vote, McCain, R-Ariz., went on a tirade about how Colleen Bradley Bell, a soap opera producer and bundler for President Obama's campaigns, is "unqualified" to represent the United States as an ambassador to Hungary.
"We're about to vote on a totally unqualified individual to be ambassador to a nation which is very important to our national security interest," McCain said on the Senate floor. "Her qualifications are as a producer of the television soap opera 'The Bold and The Beautiful,' contributed 800,000 [dollars] to Obama in the last election and bundled more than $2.1 million for President Obama's re-election effort."
"I am not against political appointees ... I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation [Hungary] that is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in bed with Vladimir Putin and we're going to send the producer of 'The Bold and The Beautiful' as the ambassador," McCain continued. "I urge my colleagues to put a stop to this foolishness. I urge a no vote."
Regardless of McCain's urging, the Senate confirmed Bell to the ambassador post with a vote of 52-42.
McCain's displeasure with Bell's qualifications stems from a contentious confirmation hearing earlier this year when multiple ambassador nominees bungled questions from senators. In her questioning with McCain, Bell struggled to name the U.S. strategic interests in Hungary. Here's an excerpt from the hearing:
MCCAIN: So what would you be doing differently from your predecessor, who obviously had very rocky relations with the present government?
BELL: If confirmed, I look forward to working with the broad range of society --
MCCAIN: My question was, what would you do differently?
BELL: Senator, in terms of what I would do differently from my predecessor, Kounalakis --
MCCAIN: That's the question.
BELL: Well, what I would like to do when -- if confirmed -- I would like to work towards engaging civil society in a deeper -- in a deeper --
MCCAIN: Obviously, you don't want to answer my question.
After McCain's rant on the Senate floor today, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., defended Bell saying she is "intelligent," "successful," and "knows how to make friends."
"You would think this is the first time that any president nominated someone that's a political appointee. Just because somebody is a producer of a very popular show, that doesn't disqualify them. It's ridiculous," Boxer said on the Senate floor in response to McCain. "I could point out people you supported, senator, who perhaps didn't work at all, so let's be clear here. She's an intelligent woman. She knows how to be successful. She'll do a good job and she'll do very well I think in this position because I know her well and she knows how to make friends and she's not angry."
In addition to Bell's confirmation, the Senate approved Noah Mamet to be the next ambassador to Argentina. Mamet also had faced scrutiny at a confirmation when he admitted he had never set foot in Argentina. Exchange below:
"Mr. Mamet, have you been to Argentina?" Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., asked.
"Senator, I haven't had the opportunity yet to be there. I've traveled pretty extensively around the world. But I haven't yet had a chance," Mamet responded.