Panel: Ambassador Nominee Gaffes 'Should Be Embarrassing' for Obama

February 14, 2014

Retired foreign service officer James Bruno and a subsequent political panel appeared on Fox News' On the Record Friday to criticize the recent embarrassing moments for President Obama's ambassador nominees.

In Obama's second term, Bruno said there are many more political appointees in ambassador posts, and "the quality was going down."

Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) admitted he was "no real expert on China" during his hearing, and major Obama bundler George Tsunis bungled several key facts about Norway under questioning by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). Then, Noah Mamet, another Obama bundler, said he'd never even been to Argentina, yet was still picked for the diplomatic post.

"The United States, Greta, is the only country in the industrialized world that treats ambassadorships as political spoils," Bruno said. "I'm aware of no other country that does this on a large scale, not as much as we do. It makes us look bad vis-a-vis the rest of the world."

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called all the nominees "incredibly qualified." Those words mirrored the sarcastic ones used by McCain after questioning Tsunis, calling him "incredibly, highly qualified."

"We should be treating other governments with the same respect that they treat us," Bruno said. "Ambassadors are members of the president's and the U.S. government's national security team. They are very important players in defending U.S. interests and promoting our interests abroad in being able to navigate nimbly with other governments and societies. If you send people out there who are amateurs, they are bound to trip up."

During a later panel discussion, ABC's Rick Klein said "this should be embarrassing" for President Obama.

"It's becoming a story in a lot of the countries where these people are being nominated to serve in, and that's where it becomes a bigger problem," Klein said. "This is different from just rewarding political friends. These people are just patently unaware of what's going on in the countries that they're supposed to go represent the United States in."