Sen. John McCain admits it is “kind of entertaining and amusing” to see how “ignorant” some of President Barack Obama’s ambassador nominees are about the countries they will be serving in, but it’s also worrying, he says.
“[I]t’s also really disturbing because it’s a disservice to our country to send that kind of unqualified candidate to represent us and our interest there in these countries,” the Arizona Republican said Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”
McCain appeared to be having a good time grilling a trio of nominees earlier this year who clearly knew little to nothing about the countries where they are set to serve.
Norway ambassador nominee George Tsunis had positive words for the country’s president even though it doesn’t have one. It is a constitutional monarchy. He also stumbled through an answer in which he said that the Progress Party was denounced by the government. McCain reminded him that the Progress Party is part of Norway’s coalition government.
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Video of that exchange has gone viral in Norway, McCain told Van Susteren, and “Frankly, the Norwegian people are not very happy about getting that kind of ambassador to represent the United States in their country.”
He and other Republicans are objecting to the nominees, he said, but Democrats have the majority. And since Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” last year, nominees now need only 51 votes. Republicans have only 45 members in the Senate.
The appointees to Norway, Argentina, and Iceland all admitted they had never been to the countries to which they were being appointed. Another thing they have in common is big political donations to Obama’s re-election campaign.
On Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart then noted that the future Norway ambassador raised $850,000, while the Argentina nominee raised $500,000 and the Iceland nominee raised $1.6 million.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., last week was confirmed by the Senate to be ambassador to China by a 96-0 vote. Baucus is not an Obama campaign bundler, offering Stewart hope that he knows more about that country because of the business and political sensitivites between them and the United States.
“I am no real expert on China,” Baucus said in a clip.
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By Greg Richter