Sonia Sotomayor is not the only recent Obama appointment. She may be the most significant pick, but she is hardly the most intriguing. To wit, I direct your attention to a short Associated Press item, which appeared in papers including the New York Times, about some of President Obama’s recent ambassadorial appointments:
President Obama has picked a retired Citigroup executive as ambassador to Britain, a theology professor to represent the United States at the Vatican and a former member of the Sept. 11 commission as envoy to India. The five ambassadors announced on Wednesday, whose nominations require confirmation by the Senate, included Louis Susman, a retired vice chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, for the post in Britain. He has also been a major Democratic fund-raiser.
The White House also announced that it planned to nominate Miguel H. Díaz, an associate professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., as the envoy to the Vatican. Former Representative Tim Roemer of Indiana, a Democrat who served on the Sept. 11 commission, was selected to be ambassador to New Delhi. Charles Rivkin, a former financial analyst and homeland security adviser, was chosen for the job in France. He has run companies like the Jim Henson Company. John Roos, an Internet and biotechnology lawyer, was tapped as the United States’ top diplomat to Japan.
The “Jim Henson Company” that Charles Rivkin ran sounds pretty vague–but it is worth noting that Jim Henson was the creator of the Muppets. Is it just me, or does anyone else wonder why a man associated with the Muppets should be ambassador to France? Perhaps there is a humor piece in there somewhere. What about why an Internet lawyer should be top dog in Japan? Or may we know what Tim Roemer’s experience on the 9/11 commission taught him about India? Even the choice of an associate professor from a little-known university as envoy to the Vatican seems to require a more detailed explanation.
Perhaps we will be hearing more details. Perhaps. But the subject of ambassadorial appointments has never gotten the media scrutiny it deserves. Everyone just assumes these are plums for supporters, and that’s that. Clearly, though, strings have been pulled, but I doubt Miss Piggy will be forthcoming.
(Oh, by the way, Mr. Rivkin was also the Obama campaign’s California Finance Co-chair. I hear France is nice this time of year.)