But I’m Sure He’s Eaten Sushi Before

by cactus

But I’m Sure He’s Eaten Sushi Before

Giving ambassadorships to unqualified political hacks and/or unqualified donors is a long and stupid tradition in this country. Apparently the President who was about change has decided to continue one of the worst things about American politics.

Let’s be realistic. Its harmful to the United States of America to have this man as ambassador to Japan. Now, I don’t say this because I know anything about the guy other than what’s in wikipedia and what I read about in (foreign) news sources. I never heard of him before. But the Japanese are kind of galled that the guy has no connection to or knowledge of Japan. None. He also has no previous diplomatic experience, and doesn’t exactly qualify as a heavyweight “causing worries in Japan”. Here in the U.S. this kind of thing isn’t worth reporting (and wasn’t when previous administrations did it either) but if you’re interested, you can read about in the Canadian Press:

The Roos nomination has been slightly controversial, as Japanese officials quietly let it be known that they were disappointed with a nominee who had little previous Japan knowledge or experience.

That particular article is especially interesting, since it points out that as insulting as we’re being toward Japanese, what we’re doing to Canada, one of the few countries to qualify as even more important to U.S. well-being than Japan, is worse:

Should Canadians be surprised, maybe even offended, that only one senator managed to show up for a hearing this month to examine the nomination of Chicago native and Democratic Party fundraiser David Jacobson to be ambassador to Canada? Surprised no. Offended, yes.

It goes on describe the hearing for Jacobson’s confirmation. Note that what follows speaks poorly not just of the President, but also of just about every member of the United States Senate, and by extension, of Americans in general:

[W]hen Jacobson’s turn came, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin introduced him to the lone panel member: 70-year-old Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, an appointed senator who inherited Vice President Joe Biden’s seat. Kaufman is a lame-duck lawmaker who has promised not to run in 2010.
Kaufman – who has no obvious ties to, or interest in, Canada – must have drawn the short straw. Avoiding the embarrassment of a hearing cancelled for lack of interest, the Delaware senator half-heartedly filled the perfunctory 20-minute affair with amiable chit-chat.

Jacobson gamely described his experience with Canada – a childhood trip to Niagara Falls and some skiing at Mont Tremblant – and expressed his clear gratitude to President Obama for an appointment he accurately described as a privilege.
Never did he adequately explain why he was the best choice for the job.
While he didn’t mention it, one argument for Jacobson is that he is close to Obama, having raised significant resources for the presidential campaign, and he therefore may have extra influence with the administration.
Maybe that’s true, but an examination of ambassadorial appointments for other “important” countries shows that affinity to the president, while helpful, isn’t by itself considered sufficient for key postings.

Now, aside from being tremendously unqualified, these two new ambassadors also have something else in common – they’re attorneys. But that goes without saying.

All that made me a bit scared to check who was put in charge of FEMA. I don’t know anything about the guy, but at least on paper he seems to be qualified.
by cactus