The new U.S. ambassador to Argentina has never been to Argentina
The Senate has approved political consultant Noah Mamet with a 50-43 vote as the next U.S. ambassador to Argentina. Mamet had a few large gaps in his resume — he doesn’t speak Spanish and has never been to Argentina. The State Department’s Marie Harf brushed off those concerns and told the press that prior travel isn’t required for the job. For 40 percent of U.S. ambassadors appointed by President Obama, campaign donations seem to be the prerequisite. Mamet had raised money for Obama's re-election — to the tune of $500,000.
Presidents have historically reserved some ambassador positions for their friends and donors. According to the American Foreign Service Association, a union of career diplomats, 35 percent of Obama’s ambassador nominations since 2009 have been connected to the politics of the campaign, while 64 percent have been career diplomats. George W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s political nominations accounted for about 30 percent of all appointments, and career diplomats accounted for 70 percent.
“The American Foreign Service Association continues to urge that experienced and qualified members of the Foreign Service generally be appointed to represent the United States as ambassadors,” the association wrote in a statement, citing the Foreign Service Act of 1980 that career diplomats should fill “positions as chief of mission,” complete with language skills and a deep understanding of the country.
“It is high time to apply these legislated criteria to all nominees – career and non-career.”
The Senate also approved Colleen Bell as the new U.S. ambassador to Hungary. Besides contributing $800,000 to the Obama campaign and bundling millions, Bell is best known for producing soap opera, “The Bold and The Beautiful.”