Tag Archives: Sweden

Trump tells another whopper — about Sweden!

It appears that every public appearance by Donald J. Trump produces a signature line, one that provokes astonishment and disbelief.

The other day he held that wild-and-woolly press conference in which he declared he scored the greatest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan. It was false.

Then he jetted off to Melbourne, Fla., for a campaign-style rally. He baited his worshipers with more promises to end “radical Islamic terrorism.” Then he singled out Sweden — Sweden! — as a place that had been victimized by terrorists.

“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden, who would believe this?” Trump bellowed during his rally.

The remark provoked astonished expressions from the Swedes. What? Huh? Terrorist attack? Where? By whom?

Of course, there was no such terror attack in Sweden. Trump made it up. He improvised yet another riff that produced — once again — the kind of thoughtless, careless and reckless rhetoric from the commander in chief.

Each time he does this, the president undermines the nation’s standing, let alone the standing of the high and (formerly) dignified office he occupies.

And what about our relationship with Sweden, a nation that has been famously neutral in world conflicts, but which remains an important ally of ours? Do the Swedes trust the U.S. president? Can they trust him to speak with clarity and precision?

For that matter, can we Americans trust the president?

Politics determines ambassador picks

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta wanted to know whether a campaign “bundler” for President Obama is the best person to represent the United States at its embassy in Paris.

Well, what difference does it make? Ambassadorships are political prizes. Always have been. Republican presidents dole out these gifts and so do Democratic presidents.

Acosta’s question came while wondering whether U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley questioned the White House about the “optics” that might occur if we didn’t send a high-ranking emissary to the unity rally.


Then came the query about Hartley’s role as someone who gathered up campaign cash from contributors to the Obama campaign; she and her husband had hosted a high-dollar campaign dinner at their New York home for conributors, which apparently earned her an ambassadorial appointment to Paris.

With few exceptions, ambassadorships go to political allies and those who have contributed tangibly to the winning presidential candidate’s political effort.

Take the time George W. Bush appointed the late Teel Bivins to be our ambassador to Sweden. Was the state senator from Amarillo an expert on Sweden? Did he have keen insight into the geopolitical relationship between the nations? No on both counts.

He was a longtime friend of the Bush family and he worked tirelessly to get President Bush elected in 2000.

Thus, he got himself a ticket to Stockholm.

I wish it weren’t that way. Jane Hartley is no different than the vast majority of ambassadors representing this country at overseas posts.

This issue, though, does make me wonder: What does someone have to do to get an ambassadorial appointment to a hellhole of a country?


Envoy posts: political payoffs

It’s not exactly a dirty little secret, as many folks know this already … but ambassadorial appointments are more likely than not going to individuals who’ve helped presidents get elected or re-elected.

You can be sure as shootin’ on this one: President Obama’s appointment of Jane Hartley as the next U.S. ambassador to France is going to bring out the critics who’ll say they’re simply “shocked, shocked!” that the president would pick someone who so darn political.


That’s been the custom since the beginning of the Republic.

Hartley is a well-known “bundler” who helped the president win re-election in 2012. Bundlers are those who go around collecting large sums of money from various interest groups and then contribute that money to whatever political cause or candidate they support.

I have no clue whether she’s an expert on France or whether she even knows anything about The Bastille. She is yet another in a long line of ambassadorial appointments that fall into this category of so-called “political hack.”

The vast majority of the complaints will come, of course, from Republicans.

I shouldn’t have to remind our friends in the GOP — but I will anyway — that presidents from their party do the same thing. I’ll cite one example quite close to home.

The late Teel Bivins of Amarillo served in the Texas Senate for 15 years before President George W. Bush tapped him to become U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Did Bivins get the nod because he was an expert on preparing pickled herring? Oh no. He got it because of his own campaign grunt work raising money and speaking on behalf of President Bush during the 2000 campaign.

One of Bivins’s top Senate aides actually told me at the time the president was rewarding the senator for “15 years of service to Texas.” Sure thing.

Well, Teel Bivins’s service to Texas wasn’t the reason he was sent to Stockholm. Hartley’s service won’t matter when Hartley jets off — once the U.S. Senate confirms her — to take her post in Paris. It hardly ever is the case whenever presidents make these appointments.

These folks are rewarded for their “service,” all right. It’s all politics.