Embassy Oslo: Sold to the man with a million bucks!

Photo: Chell Hill / Wikimedia Commons Will the U.S. Embassy in Oslo finally have an ambassador to call its own?

Photo: Chell Hill / Wikimedia Commons
Will the U.S. Embassy in Oslo finally have an ambassador to call its own?

James Bruno
Washington, D.C.

Word is that President Obama is ready to announce his next nominee to become U.S. ambassador to Norway. Readers will recall the fiasco surrounding his last nominee, George Tsunis, a Long Island hotel magnate and major campaign bundler whose abject ignorance of Norway was exceeded only by his complete lack of qualifications. His embarrassing performance at his Senate confirmation hearing combined with a vigorous opposition effort by the Norwegian-American community to ultimately scuttle Tsunis, who bowed out graciously.

But—the ambassadorial auction block remains as solid as ever, as the president has picked yet another campaign cash bundler to represent the U.S. of A. in Oslo. The lucky winner is Minneapolis attorney Sam Heins. Heins and his wife raised $1,042,157 for the president. Congrats, Sam! You just won the Cash-for-Embassy Lottery! But the White House reached w-a-y down the money barrel this time: the Heinses rank only #47 on the donor/bundler list.

For the record: the last time Washington sent a career diplomat to Norway was in 1964.

In contrast to Tsunis, however, the wizards of the White House made a smart selection this time. They’re achieving several goals: a) they’re rewarding another campaign donor (check that box!); b) Heins actually possesses some relevant experience as a human rights activist; c) by choosing a Minnesota native, the White House is placating that state’s senators (who opposed Tsunis)—and let’s not forget Minnesota has the highest concentration of Norwegian Americans. I could list as a fourth achievement the actual filling of the ambassador position, but I honestly believe diplomacy is the last thing on the minds of this administration’s political operators. Finally, wonky wise-arses like myself will find it difficult to throw cream pies at a serious-minded lawyer with a track record in human rights involvement. Though, I cannot recall the last time we had run-ins with the Norwegians over how they treat their people.

So, to the White House and Mr. & Mrs. Heins, I raise a glass of ice-cold akevitt to your success. At the very least, please try not to embarrass yourselves or our fair Republic while in the land of Edvard Grieg and Trygve Lie!

James Bruno is a bestselling author. He has been featured on many national and international media outlets. Bruno is a contributor to Politico Magazine and an instructor at ThrillerFest. Bruno served as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State for twenty-three years and currently is a member of the Diplomatic Readiness Reserve, subject to worldwide duty on short notice. He holds M.A. degrees from the U.S. Naval War College and Columbia University, and a B.A. from George Washington University.

This article originally appeared in the May 22, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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