Diplomats for sale


The practice of giving ambassadorships to big campaign donors or political supporters is not new. But President Obama may be carrying it to an extreme.

The Hill, a congressional newspaper, reports that Mr. Obama has named 19 major campaign helpers to such posts. Nominations have gone to at least eight campaign donation bundlers, who raised between $477,000 and $2.36 million; a top prospect for the ambassadorship of Switzerland raised $3.15 million.

The fact that it has become common practice doesn’t improve the quality of diplomacy. Instead of an experienced professional at an embassy, who may have served in the country and speaks the language, the United States gets someone proficient at working the phones with deep-pocketed donors.

Not all noncareer diplomats are ineffective, unqualified hacks. But the country benefits from having people in key diplomatic spots who will know what to do when things get rough.

Mr. Obama has named his donors and bundlers to easier postings such as Australia, Belgium, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, and Italy. None of the political fund-raisers seems to want to go to Lebanon, Mali, or Myanmar.

Still, this practice is corrupt. It should end before it goes any further.