Saturday, February 05, 2011

Big Obama Donor Leaves Ambassadorship Ahead of Damning Report

Seems that giving big bucks to your favorite Presidential candidate doesn't automatically qualify a gal to be an ambassador.

Cynthia Stroum was a highly effective donor to the campaign of Barack Obama. She was a successful Seattle businesswoman. Barack Obama rewarded her hard work with an ambassadorship to Luxembourg. The candidate who promised hope and change from previous administrations turned around and performed exactly as they did, too. It has been common practice to reward big donors with plum assignments. Maybe Team Obama thought Luxembourg was a small enough place where Stroum would be able to perform.

Turns out she resigned her assignment a week before a report critiquing her performance was released by the State Department. Seems Ms. Stroum enjoys the social life but not so much the official duties.

Her performance was described as "abysmal". The Luxembourg embassy "has underperformed for the entirety of the current ambassador's tenure," said the report, which was prepared last fall before she resigned abruptly. "At present, due to internal problems, it plays no significant role in policy advocacy or reporting, though developments in Luxembourg are certainly of interest to Washington clients and other U.S. missions in the NATO and EU communities."

She mentioned the standard line as she resigned: In a farewell message published in the Luxembourg press, Stroum said she was leaving the job because she wanted to return to private life. "The reality is that I now need to focus on my family and personal business," she said.

Ms. Stroum wasn't so nice to the staff, according to the report, and enjoyed the perks of her position a bit too much.

Too bad Obama's "change" didn't begin with some basics - actually appoint ambassadors with foreign service experience.

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