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Making a donation?

I was reading with the deepest interest Peter Van Buren’s piece this week in his blog “We meant Well”, on the recall and dismissal of Scott Gration, the now former Ambassador to Kenya, for what Peter delicately called differences with Washington and poor relations with his staff.  The Daily Telegraph was blunter, saying that Gration was “threatening to shoot staff in the head”.

So who is Scott Gration?  Well, he is certainly no diplomat, and if the report by the State Department’s Office is anything to go by, he’s not much of a manager either. There he is found to have lost the respect and confidence of his staff.  Well, being threatened by being shot would sour me to my boss too.  He came last in all the service for interpersonal relations and second last for managerial skill and attention to morale.  I wonder who is last? Finally, he was last in surveys by mission members.  His leadership was slated as divisive and ineffective.

So, if Scott isn’t a member of the professional diplomatic corps what is he? Well, Scott is a member of an almost entirely all-American club, namely that of the politically appointed Ambassador. A club frequently filled by the Oligarchy and it’s funders.

These posts which are, remember, paid for by the tax dollars of the American people, are gifts from the President to those he likes, and who have gifted vast sums of money to his election campaigns.  They need have no experience whatsoever of anything very much and they number around 30% of all ambassadorial posts.

Selling government jobs; wouldn’t that just please Rod Blagojevich?

Some, like those we have met in Kings passim, have fared reasonably well.  Jon Huntsman jr was America’s most famous ambassador to China, others are simply friends and relatives of Presidents, like Sargent Shriver, who married Eunich Kennedy or McGeorge Bundy and Henry Cabot Lodge jr.

Scott Gration is simply the last placeman to fall spectacularly from grace. Joe Kennedy was hated by the entire British population during the Second World War for his anti-British stance.  More recently, Cynthia Straum was a major supporter and funder of Obama who suddenly became US Ambassador to Luxembourg.  Her management style was so ghastly and damaging that staff were reportedly volunteering to go to the Kabul office to get away from her.

So how much buys what?  Well we can speculate, but it is said that Donald Beyer contributed $500,000 and got a trip to Switzerland.

donation dollars at work

My favourite though, has always been Craig Roberts Stapleton who is married to Dorothy, the cousin of George Bush senior and who was his partner in the Texas Rangers Baseball team as well as supporting (and contributing money) to George W Bush.  Craig was first Ambassador to Prague, Czech Republic, and then Paris France.

Interestingly, his relationship to the Bushes was elided over in his official profile.

Copyright David Macadam 2012