Philadelphia Story

Inside, two stocky men could be heard debating the merits of the different ambassadorships they hoped to earn under Mrs. Clinton. Even a low-ranking posting meant having “ambassador” on a child’s wedding invitation, the two agreed, and would be helpful in wrangling invitations to sit on corporate boards.

Here is the full NYT story, by Nick Confessore, and no I am not suggesting this is worse under one party than another.  That is via Mark Leibovitz and Henry Farrell.


It's good to be proconsul.

I understand that "burly" is alleged to be code for "black". What's "stocky" code for?

Someone who is not burly.

On the face of it it's somebody who's short but with a burly aspect ratio. But what is it code for? Come on, this is American English; it has to be code for something unPC.

"...and no I am not suggesting this is worse under one party than another. "

There's no equal to the Clinton Foundation on the Republican side. It's in a class by itself.

"Through 2016 the foundation had raised an estimated $2 billion from U.S. corporations, foreign governments and corporations, political donors, and various other groups and individuals,"""

This is only worse than the Gates Foundation because you like Bill G more than Bill C. Transparent.

I'm pretty sure it's only worse than the Gates Foundation because only Hillary is going to be president.

The Gates Foundation exists as a way to give away the Gates' money.

The Clinton Foundation exists as a way to give the Clinton's money.

"the American Institute of Philanthropy, says that 89 percent of the [Clinton] foundation's money goes toward its charitable mission and gave the foundation an A rating for 2013"

I notice that Lutheran World Relief doesn't do as well, only 81 percent.

Search more here:

Is it opposite day? The Gates Foundation exists as a way to give away the Gates' money. The Clinton Foundation exists as a way to give away the money of donors, mostly people trying to influence policy, while establishing an enormous organization through which she can offer favors such as employment to those she is beholden to.

Yes, I am sure your overhead is much lower when you can fundraise by peddling influence.

Was it not just a couple years ago when the story was that administrative cost were 87% of their budget.

I guess Hillary's run has had one good effect.

If I donate to Bill Gates can he get the State Department to approve my uranium deal?

I really don't know why people think that bizarre conspiracy theories make them look more insightful.

How the fuck did she raise $2B in donations if she's not peddling influence?

11% of $2B is sti $220,000,000. Not too shabby.

"There’s no equal to the Clinton Foundation on the Republican side. It’s in a class by itself"

Not so fast.

One is reminded of the G.H.W. Bush ambassador to Australia in the late '80's, the Miami auto dealer, Mel Sembler.

In the Australian Who's Who, he was asked to populate the data fields to furnish his personal profile.

For 'Languages Spoken' his entry was:

"English, Fluent" [!]

I'm sure he could get someone to translate to Australian.

In my mind, a similar, (or even greater level), of corruption could be found on the red team in the Carlysle group. EX-CIA guys hobnobbing with the bin laden family and using the us intelligence agency information to help make billions of dollars in profits in the military industrial complex while cheerleading the bombing of innocent people for profit while self righteously pretending to be "protecting our securitay".

Shirley Temple was ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. Yes, that Shirley Temple. Appointed by president Ford and the first president Bush. Seems an odd choice, but she was actually pretty good at her post. Of course, she wasn't what I'd call "stocky", so I assume that would mean she was better "suited" for the post. .

It must have been a Kissinger thing, I recall having read he used to watch her pictures in Germany. And he said he was a good diplomat, "very intelligent, very tough-minded, very disciplined."
And he wanted to kiss her.
But she may or may not have been recruited by Moscow

If you're appointed ambassador to, say, Malawi, does that mean you have to go live there?

Current ambassador to Malawi: "Virginia Palmer is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. "

I don't think that Malawi is the reward that the very rich donors are expecting. I expect another career member of the Foreign Service that was a behind the scenes Hillary supporter will get that post.

Why do we need full time ambassadors & embassies in the 21st Century ?

The U.S. President, the Secretary of State. and their minions can pick up a phone and instantly communicate with their counterparts around the world.
The occasional need for face to face meetings is easily accomplished by jet aircraft, even on short notice.

U.S. has ambassadors in most nations around the world... who have little or nothing of substance to do. Tremendous waste of taxpayers money. Do we really need a full time ambassador to Grenada? Maybe we could muddle through with just one ambassador to both Netherlands and Belgium, rather than two separately.

Of course it's all political patronage and graft. The embassy/ambassador system made sense in the days of slow sailing ships and quill pens, but today it's a sad reminder of routine politics and corruption.

Glad you posted this. I always wondered the same thing. Help with lost passports? I dunno what else they are good for.

You need someone in place to affect the the local situation. Lincoln Gordon, America's embassor in Brazil in the 1960's was so powerful, people used to say "Enough of intermediaries! Lincoln Gordon for president". And it worked so well, LBJ used to say mocking Kennedy's failure to stop Castro, "I didn't go to Harvard, but at least Brazil has not gone communist". You need people in place to act

@TR: "You need someone in place to affect the the local situation."

...or the U.S. could just mind its own business and let the citizens of other nations handle their own internal affairs-- unmolested by Washington D.C. politicians and their stooges.

If those citizens were reasonable, it would be a good idea, but as Kssinger pointed out in the 70's, "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves"

Why the short shrift for US Ambassadors?

Without April Glaspie Saddam Hussein would never have invaded Kuwait:

The rest is history.


That was in the 60's, he asked why we still need them 50 years later in a completely different, better connected world.

What an incredibly uninformed comment. The ambassador position is one thing, but our embassies and consulates play important roles in maintaining relationships, influencing host country policy, informing US strategy, etc. Diplomacy is so much more than "the occasional need for face to face meetings".

That you think "it's all political patronage and graft" because a good number of ambassadors are political appointments is sad to me. It's so dismissive of all the career foreign service officers who work long hours in often difficult situations. Even the 'plum' postings are hard - they aren't getting bombed, but they still deal with a lot of stress and bullshit because managing relations between countries is hard and involves a lot of stress and bullshit. I have multiple family members who are in the foreign service, some in 'easy' locations and some in hard ones, and they are bright, passionate, and hard-working, and they really do feel they are making a difference in the countries where they're stationed - even if they readily admit the ambassador is usually not around.

It may have been an incredibly informed comment, but your comment shined no light on the subject, so maybe the earlier comment was pretty informed.

I have the same issue as jbret and Keith with individual ambassadors to every country. And now that you bring it up, J, the rest of the diplomatic service in all these countries. What do they do? Why does the Us need a full-time presence in the Netherlands and Belgium? Maybe this is necessary, but I find it unlikely. Yes, I am totally uninformed too, but that's because no one who knows anything has ever educated me. Do you know what they spend all those hours doing, J, or is there someone else here who knows this?

Of course I meant to say "It may have been an incredibly uninformed comment..."

Malawi has an embassy in the US. Is your opinion of Malawi somehow different because of this? Pick any other countries and the answer would be the same.

Caroline Kennedy isn't very articulate in English. Maybe she speaks Japanese much more fluently.

I believe the term is "intelligence gathering." It's what CIA operatives used to do in our embassies and consulates around the world.

By the standards of the federal government, the cost is nowhere close to "tremendous" waste.

The job of ambassador varies greatly by country. For a place like Malawi, it's actually a fairly important job that would be filled by a career foreign service person, because the US does not have anything in the way of regular formal get-togethers with Malawi like they with NATO or G20 countries, and let's face it, most of the time Malawi is not worth the Secretary of State's time. The in-person presence of the ambassador is usually going to be the best and most direct way for the Malawi government to get the attention of the US government. Where it is a complete waste and pure patronage is for a place like Luxembourg, which is not only insignificant, but encompassed by long existing institutional connections via the EU, etc. For larger European countries, the job of the ambassador is essentially to be a PR agent for the US, making regular speeches to the equivalents of chambers of commerce, socializing with the elite and gleaning what information that provides, stuff like that. It is totally a cushy patronage gig, but as silly as it is PR is actually quite valuable, so it's a job someone should have.

Along with whatever practical administrative/executive role the ambassador plays at the embassy, I suspect there is also an important symbolic role. Don't sell that short. Having our ambassador attend an event or meeting gives a certain amount of our official approval (or at least attention).

We don't need an ambassador to Grenada. We will just invade when we have something to tell them.

Usually, postings in hardship locations or middle-income countries go to career foreign service officers while postings in Europe go mostly to donors, "bundlers" and political operatives. For instance, America's ambassador to France helped Obama raise money in the 2012.

Not saying this type of thing isn't common, but what a dodgy grammatical formation. "could be heard." What a great way to slip made up quotes into a story if you're so inclined. Who heard it, who said it? Is this journalism or a gossip column?

In good writing, passive voice must be avoided at all costs.

Well played.

"Well played". Passive voice must not be used. It is only used by the stupid and the unlettered.

Now I'm confused.

Your confusion is being driven by the need to avoid the passive voice.

In Russia, passive voice uses you.

In Russia, the passive voice is told to avoid you.

A portion of Kaine's national speech in praise of Hillary relied on the alleged comments of unnamed republicans who were speaking under the assumption that what they said would not be repeated. Pretty, pretty weak.

Yes agreed. And were the two men actual potential ambassadors or just two guys on the floor having a goofy chat? I'd put as much faith in this story as "seven almonds".

But shouldn't the party that believes more strongly in the ability of government to solve problems actually be better at governing?

The only thing appalling about the DNC leaked e-mails is the hack. Nothing appalling about the content of the e-mails.

The DNC chairwoman had to immediately resign as a direct result of the contents of the e-mails.

And if I can whip up a large enough mob you too will be asked to fall on your sword.

It won't mean you did anything wrong.

We're not talking about me, we're talking about Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And since even her allies thought she needed to resign, it's pretty clear that she did something wrong.

Like wasting one the VP functions allotted to the DNC on making Joe Biden come to her daughter's bat mitzvah.

All things considered, that's a minor item, but it does illustrate exactly how vain and self centered the woman is.

What exactly is so appalling? That some staffer supported Hillary and was trying to advise her on some strategy?

That the DNC was auctioning off political appointments if you're not a Democrat.

That the actual party establishment, ostensibly there to be objective, was actually merely an arm of the Clinton campaign and thwarted the populist candidate.

The RNC went out of its way to appear objective because it worried Trump voters would all walk if it rigged the results, end result the populist won.

We will see which party was smarter in November.

We will see which party was smarter in November.

Don't assume Trump victory = Republican victory

The emails didn't seem that bad to me. But I'm not a Bernie supporter. Apparently Bernie has been spending close to a year telling people that the system was rigged, and his supporters were being mocked for claiming it, and now they find out it was rigged. The panel that was supposed to be independent was in the tank for Clinton all along. I guess they're mad about that for some reason.

"wrangling invitations": do Americans really say "wrangling" there?

no. except maybe Times reporters.

And to my non-American ears it sounds like they meant write "wangling".

"Wrangling invitations" sounds like they have a heard of unruly invitations in tow which they need to drive into the stock pen or something.

May be a regional thing. I have used the word wrangling in conversation, but I also live in Texas.

If you're a naive, idealistic, under-employed lawyer in hopelessly over your head, you get Libya.

Out of all of the coverage the NYT has given Clinton, this is the only article they've published that makes me want to vote for her. The Democrat donor base is the closest thing to a responsible competent governing alliance left standing.

The Democrat donor base is the closest thing to the unintentional League of Shadows. Bane retired and became a bundler for Clinton.

A lot of Ambassador posts are more or less symbolic positions, where the ambassador just does ceremonial functions and social parties on behalf of the US while the embassy staff does the real work. That's why even though I don't like the spoils system as applied to the positions, it's harmless most of the time - when the ambassador position actually requires talent and skill, they'll pick somebody qualified for it.

True, perhaps. But a lot still can be accomplished through old fashioned schmoozing. A procurement ministry can be guided to conduct an airport construction contract fairly and give American firms a fair shot and winning the award. Law enforcement can be nudged to actually arrest wrongdoers rather than erecting roadblocks to collect petty graft from motorists. Public health ministries can be linked up with their counterparts in the U.S. and encouraged to participate in U.S. funded research.

In short, yes, an Ambassador is to some extent a ceremonious position, but when played well by the right person, he or she can be incredibly effective at promoting and extending U.S. influence in other lands.

Like April Glaspie.

I wonder if a political appointment wouldn't have done better. But then anyone who would get themselves assigned to Saddam's Baghdad would have to be someone with bad judgement.

Sometimes, yes, but why not always put someone capable in those posts, rather than just wasting the position?

Obama made Caroline (sweet Caroline, ba ba ba) Kennedy the ambassador to Japan. She neither speaks Japanese nor has ANY connection to that country. It was a consolation prize after she failed to get picked for a Senate seat.

Our ambassadorships have been a joke for decades.

They should not be political appointees at all. Career diplomats, in my opinion, would serve us much better.

Times proofreading has gone to hell. "..would be helpful in wrangling invitations to sit on corporate boards.." "Wrangling"??? crap. -- "to get (something) by clever methods or by persuading someone" It is a perfectly cromulent word. I can see people it already, people using their ambassadorships to get the invitations. It sounds epic. Why isn't anyone making a reaity show out of it? Four ambassador using all their cunning to be chosen. The tag line could be: There can be only one.

Is that Oliver Cromulent or Thomas Cromulent?

James Oliver Cromulent, the actor.

"perfectly cromulent"? Well, not entirely uncromulent, anyway.

"I am not suggesting this is worse under one party than another..."

Doubtful Tyler would have included this caveat if it was a Republican. Gotta keep the blog kosher for the powers that be.

So basically you're attempting a snarky retort to what Tyler didn't say in a post on a different subject that exists only in your head?

How can a caveat be a Republican?

He means a cravat.

They are usually emptors and not caveats. See the Republican nominee.

Is he more of an emptor suit or Holy Roman Emptor?

That is Mark Leibovich, as opposed to -vitz.

Hillary, she'll treat you like an ambassador.

Just hope you hide in a very secure bunker on 9/11 anniversaries!

Ambassador Stevens admires your naïveté and loyalty!

Comments for this post are closed