It seems that the Holy See does not want Caroline Kennedy as the American Ambassador, perhaps because of her (pro-choice) politics regarding abortion. This unpleasant situation reinforces my long-held conviction that it is a mistake for the United States to send Catholic ambassadors to the Vatican, or Jews to Israel, or Latinos to Latin America, and so forth. No Italian American should be ambassador to Italy, no Russian American should be sent to Moscow, no Indian American to India.
The Kennedy nomination shows why: nominating an American Catholic risks putting our ambassador in a very uncomfortable and perhaps even severely conflicted bind, in which he may have to choose between aggressively carrying out our policy or offending a foreign leader who holds emotional and perhaps even moral sway over him. Why should a Catholic be placed in potential conflict with the Pope? Why should a Jew be placed in potential conflict with the Jewish state?
If a non-Catholic were nominated, the abortion issue would be irrelevant, as it should be. Our ambassador is the president’s representative to the Vatican, pure and simple. He should not be in a position where he could be accused of betraying his faith, or his race, or his roots. It makes his job even more difficult, and much more political than it should be.
Moreover, the foreign countries know full well that we are pandering when we send one of “their own.” By and large, the most effective American ambassadors I have known are those who know how to get things done, which usually means they have a good relationship with the president, the national security adviser, and the secretaries of state and defense. That’s what foreign leaders want, really. Language skills, cultural/ethnic/religious background doesn’t matter nearly so much, if at all.
So send Caroline Kennedy to, say, Johannesburg/Pretoria. Send black Americans to Europe. Send Irishmen to South America, Jews to Japan and Singapore. And stop this phony catering to what we wrongly imagine to be the politically correct desires of other governments. We’re supposed to act like Americans. You know, as if we didn’t care where your grandmother came from.