“When Congress returns after Thanksgiving, one of the first agenda items is a vote on two controversial Obama campaign mega-bundlers turned U.S. ambassadorial nominees,” writes The Washington Post in the article “Two Obama political ambassador nominees finally get their vote”.
“Noah Mamet and Colleen Bell are two of the three nominees who came to symbolize the problems with giving plum overseas diplomatic assignments to big political donors after they stumbled badly in their Senate confirmation hearings. If confirmed, Mamet is off to Argentina and Bell to Hungary. The Senate will vote on them the evening of Dec. 1. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is bringing up their nominations, he likely believes he has the 51 votes needed to confirm them,” mentions the newspaper.
The article shows that during Senate confirmation hearings, Mamet was tripped up when he admitted to have never visited Argentina, though familiarity with the job in question has never been a prerequisite for getting a political post. And Bell, producer of soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” mangled her response to a question on America’s strategic interests in Hungary.
According to the Washington Post, less clear is the fate of the third nominee, hotelier George Tsunis, whose performance at his hearing was so poor that some Democrats said they’d reject him as ambassador to Norway. “Word is Norwegians weren’t too pleased either,” reads the article.
“The performances by the three nominees were so cringe-worthy that you can expect some push-back on the floor before the votes”.
“Since returning from the midterms, the Democrats have been quickly confirming career diplomats for placement in less glamorous locales, but had yet to touch any of the pending nine political nominations,” concludes the U.S. newspaper.
Romania remains on the list of nearly 50 states where the U.S. has not yet sent an ambassador, the appointments being paralyzed because of the political differences between the Obama Administration and the U.S. Senate.
Diplomatic sources told Nine O’Clock that American officials have expedited confirmation procedures of the ambassador to Budapest, but still delayed the appointment of an ambassador to Bucharest, as certain concerns persist in Washington about the situation in Hungary, expressed recently also by the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, Mrs. Victoria Nuland.
Unlike Romania, where the situation is seen as stable and predictable, told the same sources.
The last U.S. Ambassador to Bucharest, Mark Gitenstein, left the post in December 2012, the Embassy being headed since then by two charge d’affaires.