Posted: 1:13 am ET
America’s diplomats are shuddering at the notion that Donald Trump, if elected president, will send unqualified cronies around the world as ambassadors, exporting his bombastic style to sensitive jobs that represent the face of the United States.
As the presidential election draws closer, many career diplomats are uncertain about their future should the Republican presidential nominee and his unorthodox foreign policy positions triumph. And while plenty of them are wary of how Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — a former secretary of state who will owe a lot of favors — will shape her administration, Trump is by far the bigger unknown.
“He probably has no idea what the foreign service is,” lamented one person with deep knowledge of the U.S. diplomatic corps. “At least with her we know who half the people who will get these jobs will be. With him we have no idea.”
The rise of Trump this year is adding an edge to what otherwise would be routine efforts to get the candidates to pay lip service to the importance of a qualified diplomatic corps.
Donald Trump may not know what the Foreign Service is but back in 2012, he was happy to endorsed Vogue Magazine’s Anna Wintour rumored ambassadorship to either the U.K. or France. She was rumored to be in the running but was never nominated. The Daily Beast reported in 2013 that Wintour had actually favored the British appointment over France.
The Times writes that after Wintour was notified that her preferred post would likely go to Obama’s top fundraiser Matthew Barzun in November, she was uninterested in pushing for one of the remaining positions. […] At the time, Wintour’s close friend, designer Oscar de la Renta, found the prospect ridiculous, telling the paper, “When you are editor in chief of an extremely successful magazine, you don’t need an ambassadorship for four years. Ambassadors were great in the 18th century. Today, it’s going to the opening of a cafeteria.”
We should note that President Obama appointed to-date the highest number of career diplomats as ambassadors at 70.8%, and the lowest number of non-career, political appointees at 29.2%. The challenge is to persuade the next president to break that record and go lower when it comes to political appointees. See Obama’s Career Ambassadorship Appointments: Highest on Record at 70.8% #ThanksObama.
Whether or not The Donald has heard of the Foreign Service is a guessing game, but he has certainly heard of the State Department, and he has nothing good to say about it.
As to who might received appointments in a potential Trump Administration, we can only guess with trepidation given the quality of surrogates on teevee who appear to reside in an alternate universe where up is down, where inside is out and where smarts is measured by looks, and the ability to suspend disbelief.