The Race for Diplomatic Posts: Anna Wintour for Ambassador?

The post-election jockeying for coveted ambassadorships has begun among President Obama’s bundlers. Bloomberg reports that Anna Wintour, who raised more than $500,000 for the president’s reelection campaign, is being considered for U.S. ambassador to Great Britain or France. Wintour cohosted a number of fundraisers for Obama, including a fashion-themed one in London. 

A spokeswoman for Vogue gave a non-denial denial type of answer to questions of whether she would take the post. Wintour had been rumored to be in the running after Obama’s election in 2008 as well.

Britain and France are two of the most prized assignments, and the posts are currently held by two bundlers for the 2008 Obama campaign, Louis Susman and Charles Rivkin. Rivkin was the CEO of WildBrain Media and, before that, the Jim Henson Co.

If Wintour were appointed, it would likely help trigger a new round of criticism from career foreign service officers over the number of ambassadorships Obama gives to campaign bundlers. After Obama’s election four years ago, the American Academy of Diplomacy urged him to appoint 10% of all ambassadors from these fund-raising ranks; instead, it was over 30%. The White House press corps did raise some questions about Rivkin’s qualifications . Rivkin’s father, however, was an ambassador during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, so he did have that background.

Yet there is a long history of non-career ambassadors in Great Britain and France. As prized as they are, those who take them are often in for a few realities: They probably will have to take a pay cut, as the salary is about $150,000; and they often are stepping in to what can be a bureaucratic minefield.

 

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