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Sometimes it IS all about the Benjamins…

- October 23, 2009

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Campaign donations may not have direct policy payoffs for the donor, as much political science research suggests and as Lee Drutman’s current series of posts here at “The Monkey Cage” underlines. But that’s not to say that donations never pay off.

The practice of rewarding big donors and political allies with ambassadorships is so well entrenched in this country that it hardly warrants comment. (Or maybe it does, but the commentary should come from someone who knows more about the likely consequences of this practice than I do.) Anyway, here’s a little extra grist for the mill, in the form of a nice graphic (right, Andrew?) in this morning’s Washington Post on the geographical distribution of U.S. ambassadors who are political appointees rather than careerists. Shocked. Shocked. I am shocked. Three-quarters of the ambassadorial posts in places you’d really want to be, lifestyle-wise (Western Europe and the Caribbean), go to the political appointees; at the other extreme, Central Asia is staffed exclusively by careerists.

Not a bad deal: Toss in some bucks and get a free (indeed, paid) multi-year sojourn abroad in what’s likely to be a very pleasant place. No real worries about being sent off to some place where the food doesn’t taste good and the locals are likely to be unpleasant.

(The entry for East Asia seems to be messed up. Dunno what the real numbers are.)