Critics of President-elect Donald Trump are using a rather routine process in the transfer of power from one president to the next as another way to blast the new administration.
Trump has ordered all of President Barack Obama's political appointees to ambassadorships to leave their posts by Inauguration Day, and his political foes are not happy about it.
It is standard practice to replace the political appointees of the previous president, but Trump's critics say demanding all of Obama's appointees vacate so quickly is unfair. The New York Times detailed the tribulations of many of Obama's political appointees to underscore the alleged capriciousness of the order:
The mandate — issued “without exceptions,” according to a terse State Department cable sent on Dec. 23, diplomats who saw it said — threatens to leave the United States without Senate-confirmed envoys for months in critical nations like Germany, Canada and Britain. In the past, administrations of both parties have often granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow a handful of ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.
Some media figures used the Times report to further criticize Trump on social media. Christina Wilkie, a reporter covering Trump for the Huffington Post, tweeted that his order "weakens overall U.S. influence," presumably because those posts will then be left vacant until filled by Trump. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star observed, "Canada won't have an envoy for a time." NPR News's Elise Hu even contrasted the fortune of Trump's son to the plight of the children of the ambassadors:
So, Barron Trump gets to stay in NY so not to disrupt his school year but children of all US ambassadors dont get t… https://t.co/9FWhtl0ZRT— Elise Hu (@Elise Hu) 1483666718.0
Other observers say this isn't abnormal and that the media are exaggerating to create artificial outrage. Conservative columnist John Podhoretz pointed out that these political appointees have known for two months that they'd have to leave, saying of the Times report that it was "absurd to have published this nonsense."
Associated Press diplomatic writer Matt Lee took to Twitter to quash the media's outrage, saying that these kinds of changes occur upon every transition of power.
Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president. Full stop. Political appointees especially have known since Nov… https://t.co/sJTgEleIjD— Matt Lee (@Matt Lee) 1483672850.0
Hand-wringing over ambassadorships (especially non-career ones) is way over-covered in every White House transition.— Matt Lee (@Matt Lee) 1483678731.0
Lee pointed out that in the past two presidential transitions from one party to another, only 10 ambassadors were given extensions.
In the past two inter-party transitions (Clinton-Bush, Bush-Obama) only about 10 political ambos have gotten extens… https://t.co/VpmeooEAlA— Matt Lee (@Matt Lee) 1483673143.0
"This is a non-story," Lee continued. "Presidents choose their own ambassadors. None, especially non-career ones, should expect to stay post-transition."
This is a non-story. Presidents choose their own ambassadors. None, especially non-career ones, should expect to st… https://t.co/yqdVQ6xnkP— Matt Lee (@Matt Lee) 1483679699.0