What’s the going rate for the US ambassadorship to London? Apparently around $2.3 million, judging by President Obama’s latest appointment to the Court of St. James’s, the most prestigious diplomatic posting in the world for a US official. This is the amount personally raised by Matthew Barzun, the chief fundraiser (finance chairman) for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, which raked in $730 million in total. Mr Barzun, an internet businessman, was handpicked by the White House to be Obama’s representative in London, despite the fact he has no connection to modern-day Britain and his main qualification for the job appears to be that he has been an effective “bundler” for Barack Obama's two successful presidential election campaigns. His only diplomatic experience has been his recent stint as ambassador to Sweden, hardly a global powerhouse, itself a reward for his role in helping Obama win election in 2008. Ironically, Barzun once interned for John Kerry, when he was Senator for Massachusetts.
The Obama administration will claim this is no big deal. After all, previous US administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have also rewarded major donors with plum diplomatic posts. Barzun’s predecessor, the Eurofederalist Louis Susman, a Chicago chum of Barack Obama, had no diplomatic background whatsoever, but had raised $300,000 for the 2008 Obama campaign. As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs glibly noted at the time of Susman’s appointment in 2009, he was qualified for the ambassadorship “because he speaks English.” The last career diplomat to hold the London post was Raymond Seitz, during the George H.W. Bush administration.