Filibuster reform has taken away the tool Republicans used to hold up President Obama’s nomines for non-lifetime posts. The party has adapted to this reality with a tactic much appreciated by journalists: public shaming. Today’s example is the confirmation hearing of Noah Bryson Mamet, who’s up for ambassador to Argentina and who bundled at least $500,000 for the Obama campaign, according to the Center for Public Integrity. He has not, as Marco Rubio found during questioning, been to Argentina.
Obviously, a diplomatic posting in Buenos Aires is an enviable gig, probably one of the few dozen best ambassador gigs in the world. But this is a hell of a time to take it. Argentina, like a lot of next-wave developing nations, failed to build the sort of foreign currency reserve that would have sheltered it from the current slump. (Also in this category: South Africa, Turkey, Venezuela.) Delicate times, probably opportune times for a diplomat with years logged in South America.
Mamet’s confirmation didn’t go as poorly as the one for George James Tsunis, nominated for a posting in Oslo, then accidentally too ready to admit he didn’t know basic facts about Norway.* He may not become like Nicole Avant, an Obama 2008 finance chair for Southern California who went to the Bahamas and was absent from the embassy about 40 percent of the time.
*Correction, Feb. 7, 2014: This post originally misspelled George James Tsunis’ last name.