Beyond the kerfuffle over publishing and fashion magnate Anna Wintour’s suitability for a diplomatic post is the larger issue: money. Wintour’s fundraising for President Obama’s reelection campaign is really the only reason we’re having this discussion. She has raised millions of dollars for the president’s reelection.
“We urge the political parties to move away from the practice of financial campaign contributions, and sale, essentially, of ambassadorships,” says Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association. Johnson has been in the foreign service for 32 years.
President Obama ranks somewhere in the middle when it comes to rewarding non-career diplomats with these posts. Jimmy Carter did it the least, and Ronald Reagan did it the most. Obama has give more than 30 percent of his ambassadorships to political appointees — more than did President George W. Bush.
“Thirty-plus percent of all the ambassadorships is too much to be going to non-career people,” says Johnson. “And if you look at the 30 percent, that’s worldwide. If you just look at Europe or what were the G7 or G8, it’s 85 percent over four decades going to non-career people.”
For more on the “sale of ambassadorships,” including how the U.S. ranks compared to other countries, check out this week’s Political Punch: