During a segment entitled “The Diplomat Buyer’s Club,” on The Daily Show this week, Jon Stewart called foul on many of President Obama’s nominations for international diplomatic positions, including that of Robert C. Barber, Obama’s nominee for the ambassadorship in Iceland.
The issue of patronage appointments was raised following a January 30th interview with Nancy Pelosi, in which the House minority leader told Stewart that corruption was a problem unique to the Republican party. “It’s good to know that the Democrats are impervious to that because it means we don’t have to worry about things that Democrats are in charge of, for instance, the ambassadors.” Stewart then proceeded to show clips of a diplomatic appointment hearing in which multiple ambassadorial nominees—including George James Tunis (appointee for Norway), Noah Mamet (appointee for Argentina), and Max Baucus (appointee to China)—indicate that they have never even visited the countries that they may be sent to as ambassadors.
“But surely,” Stewart continues, “the guy the administration is sending to Iceland—he’s gotta be an Iceland-aholic.” Alas, the taped hearing shows that Mr. Barber has “not had the privilege yet,” of visiting Iceland. Stewart’s reaction:
“Is there a rule that ambassadors can’t have stepped foot in the country they are going to ambassador? Would it ruin the surprise? It definitely couldn’t be because the new Norway nominee raised $850,000 for Obama’s reelection campaign. Or the Argentinan one raised $500,000, or the Icelandic one bundled $1.6 million, because that would mean not only that Democrats would be seen as corrupt—and Nancy Pelosi told me personally that only Republicans are—but it would also mean that Iceland costs, like, three times more than Argentina. Why would I go to the home of the tango, the world’s best beef, and the coolest Pope, when I can hang out with Björk and have a plate of rotten shark meat?”
See the full segment (starting 9:52) on The Daily Show website, here.