President Biden has ambassadorial choices to make
By Ray O’Hanlon
The U.S. Embassy in Dublin and the Ambassador’s Residence in the Phoenix Park are awaiting President Joe Biden’s pleasure.
They are awaiting a new U.S. ambassador.
They might not have to wait much longer.
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The Washington Post was reporting Wednesday that “Biden is expected to begin naming his choices for high-profile ambassador postings in May or possibly as soon as this week, several people familiar with White House plans said, revealing winners among a pecking order of Biden friends, donors and aides that spans decades.”
The process, according to the Post report, “has been complicated by sensitivity to naming candidates other than the coterie of well-connected White people, most of them men, who have been the mainstay of Biden’s political circle.
“The selection process has taken longer than it has for Biden’s predecessors because of that issue and because Biden ‘knows too many people and he has too many friends,’ said one person close to the process. But the emerging initial choices, some of which are nearly final, are familiar names in Biden’s world.”
One of those Biden-world names is that of former senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut whose name has been linked in recent months to the Irish post. Dublin is considered a prestigious assignment even though Ireland is not a front rank economic or political power.
And there’s no doubt that Biden will consider Dublin an important ambassadorship. If he wasn’t president he could well be angling for the post himself given his clear attachment to the island home of his ancestors.
Reported the Post: “Additional boldface nominations are expected over the next month or more, potentially including former Democratic senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a longtime friend of Biden, and former Republican senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican and Trump critic who endorsed Biden.”
The report noted that the Biden White House has been slower than other new administrations to name “political” ambassadors.
“There are typically about 50 ambassadorial posts reserved for a president’s friends or political allies. President Donald Trump greatly increased the number to above 50 percent in some years. The figure was 44 percent in 2020, his last year in office.
“The political posts include London and Paris, which both come with stunning mansions but modest entertaining budgets that wealthy ambassadors are expected to subsidize.”
Most of the 190 or so ambassadorships are filled by career State Department personnel but Ireland has long been one of the political appointments.
While Dodd’s name is being mentioned anew he is not being linked to any specific appointment. While he has an Irish American lineage it is of course possible that he might be inclined to take up residence in a capital other than the Irish one.