One area of which I have been extremely critical of President Barack Obama is his ambassadorial nominations. Yes in many ways the President has followed the historical norm, but I believe that model is harmful to the US in the global theater.
The historical model is to nominate individuals as a political thank you for their support, contributions, and ability to bundle donations for the person in the White House. It is the political standard. Arguments that the vast majority of these “political” appointees step down from their positions once their nominator leaves office are valid. It’s true that these positions often do not require a “true” foreign affairs diplomat to perform the necessary duties.
That said, the United States has not had an ambassador to Norway since the year 2013 when Barry B. White terminated his mission following 4 years of service.
President Obama made a ridiculous nomination in my opinion of George Tsunis, a campaign megadonor from New York. Ridiculous because Tsunis has no background with Norway, had never been to Norway, and demonstrated himself to be clueless when asked basic questions about the history of the country and its current political, economic, and cultural issues. Tsunis withdrew his nomination, and the United States has been represented by acting ambassadors, Julie Furita-Toy (for almost 2 years which is unprecedented), James DeHart, and currently Robert Bradkte since White left his appointment.
Norway is beginning, and rightfully in my opinion, to express a sentiment of being slighted by the United States.
President Obama has since nominated Samuel Heins for this ambassadorship. Heins is another political appointee as a megadonor from Minnesota but unlike Tsunis, Heins possesses some actual knowledge about Norway. Also given that Minnesota has the country’s largest population of Americans with Norwegian heritage which the nominee has emphasized in his public statements, he can use his business acumen to establish some financial connections beneficial to both countries.
Yet it is likely that Samuel Heins will never become ambassador to Norway. It has nothing to do with his credentials, his personal politics, or Norway. The only obstacle is the modern partisanship in the United States and certain elected representatives who choose to “halt” work and progress for nothing other than their own narcissistic advancement under the guise of other matters which they have neither the integrity nor gonads to address directly.
Case in point, Senator Ted Cruz has voiced his opposition to the multi-nation Iran Deal. I’ve written, and others with far more knowledge than I have addressed how this agreement is not directly between the United States and Iran, but that the United States is only one (1) of a coalition of countries involved hence the moniker of P5 + 1. Agree or disagree with those negotiations, but the appointment of Mr. Heins is not connected.
Still while not having the time to attend sessions of the United States Senate himself because of his presidential campaigning in New Hampshire, Senator Cruz by proxy has decided to block any State Department nominations. Cruz is not alone as another freshman, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has also declared and is blocking other State Department nominations from reaching the Floor of the United States Senate. For Cotton it is presumably not about Iran but that he is upset about information released by the Secret Service about Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah.
My feeling is that Cruz has every right to oppose the agreement with Iran. Chaffetz may not be among my list of “effective Members of Congress” and personally the Honorable Mr. Chaffetz and I would most likely never “break bread” together or just sit on the tailgate of my truck and “chew the fat,” but he does have a legitimate case in my opinion against the Secret Service for the information about him becoming public. Even though I disagree with him personally and professionally, the leak is hogwash [readers seem to understand that term for BS more than my typical ‘nutria nuts’].
Still is it right that because Congressman Chaffetz got wronged that Senator Cotton plans to hurt everyone else? Is it acceptable that because Senator Cruz does not like one thing, he will grind to a halt everything else regardless of who gets hurt or how much it costs?
I will say that I am irked more by the “Norway no-way” given the unprecedented Congressional refusal to invite the Office of Management and Budget director to testify before the respective panels regarding the submission of the President’s budget proposal. I’ve written extensively on the Federal Budget process, and regardless of who sits in the White House the President’s budget is merely an opinion. Actually even if Congress would do some work and be able to reach the reconciliation stage of the budget process, the matters of debt and deficit are really addressed in the passage of the individual appropriation bills. In recent years, however, funding has tended to come by way of continuing resolutions.
Party affiliation, election year or not, Members of Congress just represent the “average” people of the United States. You know those people who rely upon pay checks and what they put away for retirement to survive from day to day. You know those people who could use a helping hand to get back to their feet where they can contribute to society as well. You know the people who are not heading Super PACs or donating more than most people make annually to a 501(c)(4) or 527 organization financing your personal political aspirations.
Stop the campaigning and actually talk with and not at one another and stop posing for the cameras. Nowhere is it written in the Constitution that We the People should imitate presidential candidates.