The competition for plum Obama ambassadorial assignments looks to be especially intense this year, and the field is larger and more qualified than ever.
The key qualification, of course, is campaign cash. And the Obama campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, this time around boasts more than 200 mega-contributors who bundled or gave a minimum of $500,000.
We’re hearing that Team Obama folks have been quietly talking to contributors to see which of them might have “any interest in serving” in the administration. For the high-rollers, “service” translates to living in a spectacular home on the Champs-Elysees or the Via Veneto.
Nearly all of the 55 or so “political” (as opposed to career foreign service) ambassadors, especially those who’ve been in their posts three years or more, are expected to leave — traditionally, they almost never stay for a second term — perhaps by late spring.
And obviously not all of the top bundlers are up to the rigors of the diplomatic life in Luxembourg. Nonetheless, the competition for these jobs could be brutal.
For example, when Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Vogue Editor and major Obama bundler Anna Wintour was a possible pick to be ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in London, it noted that Matthew Barzun, who last year left his ambassadorship in Sweden early to come back and do a stunning job hoovering big bucks as Obama’s head of fundraising, was also eyeing that job. (Hey, can’t be colder than Stockholm.)
For now, we’re hearing that the administration is mostly gathering names and potential assignments, but it would behoove interested parties to call their accountants and lawyers and start getting their applications in order.
Footnote: Loop fans may have noted that, even as the consumer price index has remained pretty stable for years, inflation has taken a toll on embassy prices.
A Bush “Pioneer” who bundled a piddling $100,000 in 2000 would have been consider eminently qualified for a diplomatic posting. Four years later, a Bush “Ranger” ($200,000) was a good bet to snag at least Lisbon or Vienna.
In 2008, there were only about 50 half-million-dollar bundlers for Obama, so poorer people had a chance. But now it looks like $500,000 is the floor.