Sunday, February 22, 2009

If lobbying doesn't matter, how about fund-raising?

If you're busily constructing a narrative of change, you probably want to avoid stories in the Telegraph like this one:

The selection of Mr Susman, a lawyer and banker from the president's hometown of Chicago, rather than an experienced diplomat, raises new questions about Mr Obama's commitment to the special relationship with Britain.

American commentators denounced the selection of a rich friend to the plumb post, regarded as one of the most prestigious in the president's gift, as worthy of a "banana republic".

They said it was proof that Mr Obama has turned his back on his campaign pledge to end politics as usual.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations told The Washington Post that the appointment is "likely to happen" but is "not final"....

And they [critics] pointed out that there is little difference between handing a major diplomatic post to a fundraiser and the "pay to play" scandal in which disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich apparently auctioned off Mr Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder.

Mr Susman's reputation for hoovering large amounts of cash from deep pockets saw him nicknamed "the vacuum cleaner" when he raised more than $240million for John Kerry's White House bid in 2004.

He was one of Mr Obama's biggest campaign cash "bundlers", fundraisers who collect contributions from hundreds of others. He also gave $300,000 to the president's inauguration fund.

You have to wonder if somewhere--anywhere--there wasn't actually a trained diplomat available to serve at the court of our oldest and most loyal ally....

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