— Domani Spero
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On September 10, 2013, President Obama announced a slew of executive nominations including that of George J. Tsunis as his nominee for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway. In January 2014, Mr. Tsunis made an appearance at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (see Senator John McCain’s “No More Questions” at the Senate Confirmation Hearing Gets a GIF and US Embassy Oslo: Clueless on Norway, Murder Boards Next?).
In February, a group of Norwegian-Americans made their opposition to the nomination known (see Norwegian-Americans Petition For Withdrawal of Tsunis Nomination as Ambassador to Norway). The same day we wrote about their opposition, the SFRC panel cleared the Tsunis nomination (seeSFRC Clears Barber, Bell, Tsunis, Harper, Talwar, Rose, Gottemoeller, Chacon, Carroll).
In April, murder boards became real (see State Department Seeks Contractor For Simulated Congressional Hearing Sessions). On August 7, the Washington Times reported that Orlando, Florida-based AMTIS, Inc. was awarded a $545,000 contract by the State Department for simulated congressional hearings and communicating with Congress classes.
Last week, opponents of the Tsunis nomination rolled out a new social media campaign to sink his nomination. We did not see it until we got poked on Twitter today. Tom Lundquist who started the original petition asking President Obama to withdraw the nomination posted the following on change.org:
Today looks to have been the first full day of starting out with a never-before-tried social media campaign in this effort to have George Tsunis withdrawn or defeated. An integrated Twitter, Facebook, and Web campaign have been launched!
On its website, the group listed several reasons why they opposed the Tsunis nomination including the following:
Perception of American Incompetence and Arrogance Abroad:
America’s foreign image hasn’t been the best over the last decade or so. Let’s not make it worse. George Tsunis’ wildly inaccurate statements of fact, diplomatic outrages, and lack of qualifications offended a number of Norwegian officials and Members of Parliament, including the mayor of Norway’s capitol city who made it clear that President Obama should send a far more knowledgeable and qualified person. To send Tsunis to Norway would be a fist in the face of a key ally – and an arrogant message to the world. Norway is a vital member of NATO, a key supplier of energy to the EU, an important player in peace efforts in the Middle East, and a strong U.S. ally everywhere. With rising tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East the U.S. has to take its diplomacy seriously and treat key allies with respect.
The website also listed the names of four Senators who already made their opposition to the Tsunis nomination known, calling them, Senate Heroes. As well, under the section “Money Bound,” the group listed the names of 9 Senators who were recipients of donations from Mr. Tsunis, urging supporters to email/call the senators and their aides. Check out the Senators Living Dangerously, the Silent Senators, and Our Party’s (Apparent) Worst Enemies. The website also includes the well-circulated clips from Anderson Cooper and the Daily Show.
The group suggests a series of questions constituents should ask their congressional representatives noting that “Until a Senator comes out publicly against the absolute most inane, unqualified nomination the Senate has perhaps yet ever seen, tacit support of Tsunis – and the damage it is doing to our Party and democracy – must be challenged.”
It also adds a carrot for the rabbits in the Senate, “By the Senator making a public commitment to vote against the Tsunis nomination, the Senator’s page here will be removed from this website and the Senator will be promptly added to The Principled Heroes list for all constituents to see.”
Over on Twitter, a new hashtag battle could be brewing — @CitizensvTsunis‘ #SayNoToTsunis and what appears to be a parody account by Not George J. Tsunis using the @ambGeorgeTsunis handle with the #SayYesToTsunis hashtag. This could get nasty.
Given the many challenges facing our country these days, we don’t think the White House appreciates this new kind of headache. I mean, who would? But we also suspect that it would not withdraw the nomination on its own. Once it nominated Mr. Tsunis, the WH is bound to stand by its nominee. The only way we think the WH would withdraw this nomination is if Mr. Tsunis , himself, withdraws his name from consideration. That might be the most prudent action for Mr. Tsunis to do here. That would give President Obama a fresh start.
Of course, if the Democrats lose the Senate in November, well … maybe none of the nominees will be going anywhere.
- SFRC Clears Barber, Bell, Tsunis, Harper, Talwar, Rose, Gottemoeller, Chacon, Carroll (diplopundit.net)
- Norwegian-Americans Petition For Withdrawal of Tsunis Nomination as Ambassador to Norway (diplopundit.net)
- US Embassy Norway: Emergency Message on Foreign Fighters Returned From Syria Threat (diplopundit.net)
- Al Franken opposes George Tsunis’ stalled Norway ambassador nomination (newsday.com)
- Democrats oppose Obama’s ambassador nominee to Norway (thelead.blogs.cnn.com)
- 5 Most Cringe-Worthy Blunders From Obama’s Ambassador Nominees (abcnews.go.com)
- Why Unqualified Norway Ambassador Nominee Must Step Aside (huffingtonpost.com)