Saturday, June 13, 2009

Change? No change if you're a super wealthy donor

"President Barack Obama promised change, but he's following one time-honored tradition: doling out plum ambassadorships to friends and big-money party donors. So far, Obama's contributors and friends have been awarded with plum posts in Canada, France, England, Japan, South Africa, Ireland, the Bahamas, Denmark, Argentina and the Vatican. The Obama administration says that all of its appointees are qualified, but critics say the jobs should go to career diplomats instead of party loyalists. "It is the last vestige of the spoils system," said Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. "We made it illegal to do this for our civil service on the basis that merit was important," Neumann said. "We don't do it for our military. And it is a little perplexing why we think that we should we able to sell ambassadorships."

The price of an Obama ambassadorship?

The United Kingdom cost Louis Susman $100,000 for Obama's presidential campaign and at least $300,000 for his inauguration. Ireland cost Dan Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers) contributions of more than $152,400. France cost Charles Rivkin at least a half-million dollars for Obama's campaign and another $300,000 toward his inaugural committee. Japan cost John Roos at least $500,000 to Obama's presidential campaign (his wife has contributed at least $77,500 over the years, including $6,900 to Obama).

During the campaign, Obama called Bush's White House "the most politicized" in history, decried the appointment of Bush's friend Michael Brown to head FEMA, and declared, "The days of Michael Brown, Arabian horse judge, are over." Obviously, they're not over yet.

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