I am thinking of selling the house, borrowing money, then bundling it all and giving it to President Barack Obama.
That way I can become U.S. Ambassador to Albania.
Of course, I could just give the man the money outright. But that might look like I am buying the ambassador's job in a sort of "pay to play" manner. That would be wrong and illegal. So it is better if I give it to one of his committees. It sort of launders the cash, as it were.
Also, I figure it sounds more impressive if I bundle it. That way it appears that I gathered the money from a host of willing donors, rather than coming up with it all by myself.
In the old days a person would just hand the money to the politician in a brown paper bag, hence the term bagman. But bundling sounds much more sophisticated, and no one in Washington or elsewhere would be caught dead these days being called a bagman. Bundler, maybe, bagman, no.
Anyway, the idea came to me when I read about all the unqualified people Obama is naming as ambassadors to a lot of important and not-so-important countries.
These people, who appeared before recent Senate Foreign Affairs Committee confirmation hearings, all seemed to have three things in common.
One is that they all gave substantial amounts of money to Obama. The second is that they didn't know anything about the country where they were headed. And third, they had neither been to the country nor could speak the local language. Other than that they were just swell.
Noah Mamet, a Hollywood fundraiser, whom Obama nominated to be ambassador to Argentina, told the committee that he had never been to Argentina though, presumably, he knew where it was. Mamet raised more than $500,000 for Obama's re-election.
Boston lawyer Robert C. Barber, whom Obama nominated to be ambassador to Iceland, has never been to Iceland. He did raise $1.6 million for Obama in 2012, however.
George Tsunis, CEO of Chartwell Hotels and a Long Island lawyer, nominated to be ambassador to Norway, was attacked by the Norwegian press over his lack of knowledge about the country and its politics, He was unaware that Norway's anti-immigration Progress Party was part of the government, and mistakenly referred to the country's president when Norway has no president. Tsunis raised $1.6 million for Obama.
Hollywood's Colleen Bell, producer of the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful," who was nominated by Obama to be ambassador to Hungary, so stammered her way before the committee that it was almost an act of mercy when it came to an end. She raised some $800,000 for Obama.
It was at the end of her and Tsunis' testimony that committee member Sen. John McCain, looking up in wonder, said, "I have no more questions for this incredibly, highly qualified group of nominees." McCain said later that Obama's recent nominees were "truly alarming" because of their lack of qualifications. "When you put someone in an ambassador's position who hasn't even been to the country, you are rolling the dice," McCain said..
Obama is not the first president to appoint campaign fundraisers to ambassadorships, as opposed to career foreign service officers. He is just more blatant about it. But unlike JFK, for instance, the slogan of Obama's appointees is: "Ask not what you can do for your country, but what the country can do for you."
All nominees go through State Department briefings before they appear before Congress for confirmation. It is a sort of an ambassador school. Well, this group appeared to have flunked the course.
Tom Korologos, former U.S. ambassador to Belgium under George H. W. Bush, who prepped GOP nominees for confirmation hearings, told The Washington Post that he was "amazed" at how this group of nominees was so unprepared. "When I went up for confirmation as ambassador to Belgium, I knew more about Belgium than the Belgians did," he said.
Which brings this down to me. I have visited Albania many times. I have written three books about Albania and am working on a fourth. I know the people and the customs. I know the language. I know the politicians, including the current prime minister and the man he defeated.
But looking over this crowd of unqualified, shameless job buyers, I have decided that I am overqualified and cannot afford to be associated with this riff-raff. I have my reputation to consider. So count me out.
Can I get buy a judgeship instead?
Peter Lucas' political column appears Tuesday and Friday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.