When Congress returns after Thanksgiving, one of the first agenda items is a vote on two controversial Obama campaign mega-bundlers turned U.S. ambassadorial nominees.
Noah Mamet and Colleen Bell are two of the three nominees who came to symbolize the problems with giving plum overseas diplomatic assignments to big political donors after they stumbled badly in their Senate confirmation hearings. If confirmed, Mamet is off to Argentina and Bell to Hungary.
After much delay and hand wringing, it was announced late Thursday night that the Senate will vote on them the evening of Dec. 1. If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is bringing up their nominations, he likely believes he has the 51 votes needed to confirm them.
What is less clear is the fate of the third nominee, hotelier George Tsunis, whose performance at his hearing was so poor that some Democrats said they’d reject him as ambassador to Norway. Word is Norwegians weren’t too pleased either.
Mamet was tripped up when he admitted to have never visited Argentina, though familiarity with the job in question has never been a prerequisite for getting a political post. And Bell, producer of soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” mangled her response to a question on America’s strategic interests in Hungary.
Since returning from the midterms, the Democrats have been quickly confirming career diplomats for placement in less glamorous locales, but had yet to touch any of the pending nine political nominations.
The performances by the three nominees were so cringe-worthy that you can expect some push-back on the floor before the votes. As a refresher, here’s Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) asking Mamet the “have you been there” gotcha question: