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US: Political Appointees at State Department

Paul Simon comments on the posting about Latin American governments giving political enemies diplomatic jobs (a silver bridge, puente de plata) to get them out of the way. Paul says the American way is to give them to political friends: "The US way may be more 'Al amigo, puente de plata, despues de derrota'. Many political ambassadors are former legislators of the President's political party, who later suffered electoral defeat. During President Clinton's tenure we saw Carol Mosley-Braun as Ambassador to New Zealand, James Sasser as Ambassador to China, Ray Flynn to the Vatican, Walter Mondale as Ambassador to Japan, etc. Now we see Howard Baker in Japan. This is not to criticize any of these people, many have been fine Ambassadors. In idle moments, I have often wondered when Newt Gingrich and Dan Quayle might show up!"

My comment: I am sure that the French are not alone is liking diplomats who speak their language. In addition, a diplomat who speaks Chinese, Japanese, etc., can get a better feel for the country. On the other hand, to be a friend of the US President is a great asset.

Ronald Hilton - 2/7/02