“We believe that our nation will be greatly served by his experiences in Iraq and we look forward to the Senate’s advice and consent on his appointment,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of President Obama???s choice for ambassador to Iraq. The Senate???s advice appears to be: pick a different nominee.
The Obama Administration decided it needed another high-profile, pointless battle with Congress for some reason ??? maybe this is Distraction 6.0, and prospective ambassador Brett McGurk is the new dog on Mitt Romney???s roof.
McGurk would appear, at first glance, to have some bipartisan appeal, having worked at the U.S. embassy in Iraq during the Bush years, helping to negotiate security agreements with the post-Saddam government. He has the ???enthusiastic support??? of the current ambassador, James Jeffrey, who joined with two of his predecessors to write a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying ???Brett is the right man for the job. We hope that you will support him to the fullest extent possible, and we urge the Senate’s swift confirmation.???
His problems stem from what he did while he was in Iraq last time. Some senators are concerned with his overall job performance, arguing that he didn???t do a terribly good job of negotiating those security agreements, and got on the wrong side of some prominent Iraqi political figures. He???s only 39 years old, and has never served as an ambassador before.
But the big hang-up is who he used to hang out with in his spare time: former Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon, with whom he evidently enjoyed an intimate relationship in 2008, while she was based in Baghdad. McGurk has since married Chon. Unfortunately, he was married to someone else in 2008.
A series of torrid emails between McGurk and Chon recently appeared on a WikiLeaks-type website called Cryptome. In one of these messages, McGurk himself memorably characterizes the exchange as ???blue ball banter.??? A good deal of blue language is included. Judging by his declaration that his first sexual encounter with Chon was ???a night the world should celebrate,??? it would appear McGurk does not have any self-esteem issues.
Mixed in with the blue ball banter are some things McGurk really shouldn???t have been discussing with a journalist. They weren???t quite ???security leaks,??? but this Administration is absolutely not in a position to be bringing anyone who might be seen as leak-prone on board. Chon also allowed her paramour to read unpublished Wall Street Journal stories – a severe violation of their code of conduct, which led to her resignation from the newspaper after the emails were made public.
On Wednesday, six Republicans from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Inhofe (R-OK), James Risch (R-ID), and John Barrasso (R-WY), delivered a letter to President Obama asking him to withdraw the McGurk nomination. ???There are strong concerns about Mr. McGurk???s qualifications, his ability to work with Iraqi officials, and now his judgment,??? they wrote.
The Republican senators were concerned that ???some Iraqi political groups have stated they will not work with Mr. McGurk if confirmed as the next Ambassador,??? and they think he played an unhappy role in the ???botched 2011 Status of Forces Agreement negotiation.??? They add that his ???unprofessional conduct,??? as detailed in the Chon emails, ???will affect the nominee???s credibility on the country where he has been nominated to serve.???
???The fact that this information was not disclosed to senators is also disconcerting,??? the letter adds. Disclosure is a rare and precious commodity in the Obama Administration.
This isn???t entirely a partisan conflict, as Foreign Relations chair John Kerry (D-MA), a onetime presidential nominee of the Democrat Party, said ???I think are some very fair questions being asked and they need to be answered.???
Of course, the Obama White House had to use its magical leadership skills to insult McGurk???s critics and turn this into a political shooting war. ???There are some who believe we should still be at war in Iraq,??? sniffed press secretary Jay Carney. ???There are some who believe the president should not have ended U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq. The president simply disagrees.???
That must explain why he???s insisting on an uncompromising push to install an inexperienced adulterer who concealed vital information from the Senate, and had a dangerous relationship with a journalist, in one of America???s most sensitive embassies. It???s really all George Bush???s fault, when you think about it.