Many Presidents have named political supporters as ambassadorial nominees. Most were wise enough to keep career diplomats or persons experienced in foreign policy in key posts like Japan. President Obama is not that wise.
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has seen its share of luminaries in the ambassador's suite. Former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Senate Majority Leaders Mike Mansfield and Howard Baker and former House Speaker Tom Foley are among those who have brokered relations with a complex and critical ally in a region bristling with military and trade tensions
President Barack Obama's pick for the post is from a different mold: John Roos, a San Francisco Bay area lawyer, was the president's chief Silicon Valley fundraiser and contributions "bundler." He has no diplomatic experience.
Mr. Obama's choice of Mr. Roos, along with other political boosters -- from former investment banker Louis B. Susman, known as the "vacuum cleaner" for his fundraising prowess, to Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney -- has raised eyebrows among some who thought the president would extend his mantra of change to the diplomatic corps.
"We're not only insulting nations [that] we're appointing these bundlers to, we're risking U.S. diplomatic efforts in these key countries," said Craig Holman, a government-affairs lobbyist at watchdog group Public Citizen.