We ask Mr. Obama to withdraw the Tsunis nomination or, alternatively, that the Senate act in the interests of the U.S., taxpayers, and ties with Norway, thus, rejecting the nomination.
Who’s Mr. Tsunis? Mr. George J. Tsunis is a millionaire-many-times-over who was recently nominated to the post of U.S. Ambassador to Norway. That despite, as we now know, having shown himself to possess absolutely no skills or background for the job. That, however, is only the beginning. By the incompetence of his responses and failures to respond to other questions during his confirmation hearing, he also actually managed to touch off an international diplomatic firestorm between the U.S. and Norway in the week after his testimony.
Talking-heads and bloggers from every corner and shade of politics, including ANDERSON COOPER over at CNN, have had great fun with Tsunis for his very un-funny appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Cooper, in his fully justified public lambasting of Mr. Tsunis, likened Tsunis's testimony to that of an iredeemably failed beauty queen contestant. Cooper's commentary made clear that there is a large scale problem and a certain grotesqueness - not with presidential appointments of ambassadors - but with unfitting and unqualified ambassadorial nominations such as that of Tsunis.
ABC journalist Abby D. Phillip included Tsunis – and COMEDY CENTRAL'S JOHN STEWART'S own mockery of Tsunis on the “THE DAILY SHOW” – as the centerpiece of her own piece, the “5 Most Cringe-Worthy Blunders From Obama’s Ambassador Nominees.” (See the TWO FULL JOHN STEWART VIDEOS at "THE DAILY SHOW" links below in the "News" section here.)
Both Liberals and Conservatives, Right and Left alike, all across the United States, Norway, and the blogosphere are united in disbelief. One story prompted over 6,000 comments on Yahoo News within very short order.
Why should we care? If Tsunis is confirmed in the vote of the full Senate (date still to be determined), we would be paying to a multimillionaire (worth $85 million and who has shown himself to be incompetent - and even detrimental - to the position for which he has been nominated) a salary of at minimum $180,000 per year (with 5 weeks of paid vacation, paid housing, paid meals and transportation, paid schooling for children, etc.) to be wined and dined for the next three years in a country of which Tsunis knows and, up until his nomination, has cared absolutely nothing. This despite the fact that, as McCain, Cooper, Stewart, and Tsunis have made obvious, Tsunis possesses none of the skills, knowledge, or background necessary for this position for which – by the standards of the average American family – he would be paid so handsomely well.
As you can see here, Tsunis's testimony provided at his senate confirmation hearing was exceptional for the incompetence and the indescribable degree of the lack of suitability shown for his nomination. As for a few examples, perhaps:
1. He informed Sen. McCain that he had, well, eh, never actually even been to Norway (see Anderson Cooper interview above), the country to which he was being nominated as...ambassador;
2. He referred to Norway's prime minister as a "president" showing, in fact, that he had no idea of Norway's structure of government, meaning, in essence, that he was really unaware that Norway is a parliamentary democracy and, it follows, has a prime minister;
3. When asked by Sen. Johnson, as to what business opportunities exist to be developed between the U.S. and Norway, Tsunis, having no knowledge of the country's economy or business assets, was embarrassingly unable to answer the question. Then, having gone absolutely nowhere in his attempt to answer, Tsunis actually thanked the senator for rescuing him by moving him onward toward another question. A question, by the way, which Tsunis also could not answer;
4. When asked how he would open up trade opportunties he blanked, he came up with no response at all, and instead, upon realizing that he had no answer, babbled briefly;
5. Until interrupted and corrected by an astounded McCain, in response to what Tsunis called a "seminal question", Tsunis went on to rip apart a governing Norwegian political party and painted it as made up of "fringe elements" that have "spewed a hatred" saying that that party was disregarded by the Norwegian government. In fact, the party he attacked is one of the largest parties in Norway and a valued member of the present government;
6. As Anderson Cooper points out, McCain then closed by snickering that he had "...no more questions for this incredibly highly-qualified group of nominees."
Why was George Tsunis nominated for a position for which he has no experience, knowledge, background, or userful contacts?
As Yahoo News reports:
"In the 2012 cycle, Tsunis and his wife, Olga, are listed among the “top individual contributors” on the strength of having given $267,244, roughly 89% of which went to Democrats and 10% to Republicans. In all, he raised $988,550 for Obama and gave $300,000 to Democratic super PACs and $75,800 to the Obama Victory Fund." Tsunis had also previously given "...$50,000 to Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign."
That, obviously, didn't stop Senator McCain from realizing the error of Tsunis's nomination.
The result of Tsunis's extremely uninformed and, no doubt, truly undiplomatic attempts at becoming a diplomat have caused some real shockwaves in U.S.-Norwegian relations.
1. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo has been locked into “damage control” in Norway.
2. A Norwegian member of parliament has asked President Obama for an apology and said that Tsunis is really in need of some real learning in matters of diplomacy, international relations, foreign policy, and government - at least as relates to Norway.
3. The Norwegian Finance Minister has said that Tsunis should have delved into some studies of government a bit before his confirmation hearing adding that, for her, she assumes merely that a proposed ambassador will be fully familiar with Norwegian-American relations before being sent off to Norway.
4. Tsunis’ testimony, characterized in Norwegian as having taken a “walk through the salad bowl,” has also caused strong reactions among the Norwegian public calling his nomination an “insult to Norway.”
So, as opposed to nominating as a U.S. ambassador a person who has successfully developed over the years of a career specific expertise, business relationships, and useful contacts relating to, say, Norway, instead, something far more grotesque occurs. Instead, an extremely wealthy individual who has donated obscenely large amounts of money politically is nominated (and usually confirmed) to offices the requirements of which are far beyond their background and work skills. Individuals who lack even the slightest knowledge, experience, and relationships to the country upon which they are about to be foisted are, on the contrary, allowed to pass through. Would you ever be offered and hired for a job paying nearly $200,000 per year for which you have absolutely no qualifications? No. Neither would I. And neither should Tsunis.
Unskilled purchasers of offices are, therefore, turned loose on unsuspecting foreign nations and American foreign policy alike as know-nothing/accomplish-nothing ambassadors who, in the very worst cases, such as that of Tsunis, even PRIOR TO their confirmation and arrival in office do far more HARM in U.S. international relations than they ever will do good.
The senate has rarely seen a candidate with such defficient skills and such a lack of knowledge and background. A person can be forgiven for their nervousness in providing testimony in a hearing before the senate; however, when that person is there for a job interview and causes, by his own incompetence, massive embarrassment for himself, his president, his country, and the country to which he is to be appointed... before he is ever confirmed... every person across the political spectrum can agree that such a person, in this case Tsunis, should never be nominated for the ambassadorship to Norway and, as a consequence, the nomination should be withdrawn by President Obama or rejected on a bi-partisan basis by the full Senate when it - in the near future - eventually votes on Tsunis' nomination.
Please do us all a favor and take the short amount of time it takes to sign the petition requesting the withdrawal of his nomination by President Obama or, alternatively, the rejection of confirmation by the senate.
We ask Mr. Obama to withdraw the Tsunis nomination or, alternatively, that the Senate act in the interests of the U.S., the taxpayer, and our ties with Norway and, thus, reject the nomination.
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