Dotcom diplomat tipped as ambassador

Will Matthew Barzun be the next US Ambassador to London?

As predicted by Embassy magazine, former US Ambassador to Sweden and trusted financial adviser to Barack Obama, Matthew Barzun is now the front-runner for the job as next US Ambassador to London after Vogue editor Anna Wintour exited the race.

At 42, the Harvard-educated, grassroots fund-raising wizard and online media mogul may appear young but he has impeccable Washington DC credentials. He worked as an intern for John Kerry back in 1989, going on to raise funds for Democrat Senator’s failed 2004 presidential campaign so he has already worked with the new Secretary of State.

But it was Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign where he made his name, using his internet savvy to drum up multiple small online contributions. He also came up with the idea of hosting low-dollar, high turnout events where Obama could connect with his base – and meet some icons too (Barzun introduced Barack Obama to Muhammad Ali at one event).

In the 2008 election he was one of Obama’s top ‘bundlers’ raising more than US$500,000 for the campaign according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

Barzun was rewarded with an ambassadorship to Stockholm but resigned his post in 2011 to take up the job as Obama’s national finance committee chairman.

If given the nod, Barzun would be a shot in the arm for diplomacy in London. Here he could replicate his brand of grassroots digital diplomacy that he piloted in Sweden.

Added to the bonus of having some diplomatic experience (as political appointees, US Ambassadors to London seldom do), he is also a history buff (he has a AB Magna Cum Laude in History and Literature from Harvard).

Barzun has interesting family connections too: his grandfather was renowned French-born American cultural historian, Jacques Martin Barzun and he is a descendent of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, and Lucretia Mott, a women’s rights activist.

His wife, Brooke Brown Barzun, is part of the Jack Daniels dynasty so perhaps diplomats could see a few bottles of whiskey at July 4th parties next to the Bud. It’s said he prefers his whiskey straight-up – so if there is any truth to the saying that diplomacy is ‘50% alcohol and 50% protocol’, Matthew Barzun will fit right in.