On the fringes with Elizabeth Stewart

On the fringes with Elizabeth Stewart, editor

He sucks!
Well you read it first in Embassy: as we predicted back in March, Chicago lawyer, investment banker and Democratic Party fundraiser Louis Susman, 71, has been tapped by President Obama to be the next US Ambassador to London. And while the merits of having a political appointee are still hotly debated in diplomatic circles, Susman really does suck, but in the best possible way.

Right from the start Louis ‘the Vacuum Cleaner’ Susman (so called because of his knack of sucking up campaign dollars from deep pockets) backed Obama.

It took the shrewd eye of a businessman to spot the potential of the then obscure Illinois senator who spoke so eloquently at a fundraiser for John Kerry, prompting Susman to make a prediction to Kerry: “This man will be on the national ticket one day.” Susman was one of Obama’s earliest backers, even before he announced he was running for president.

Hot dog diplomacy
And having a man with deep pockets as the next occupant of Winfield House is no bad thing. As former US Ambassador to London Ray Seitz once pointed out, the State Department is remarkably stingy when it comes to spending money on embassy receptions, so it helps having a wealthy ambassador to subsidise the parties.

Perhaps at the Independence Day celebrations we might be enjoying a better class of hot dog – preferably an all-beef Chicago-style dog. Which is just as well because Iranian diplomats are back on the invitation list.

The State Department recently revealed that US posts have been authorised to invite Iranian diplomats to the July 4th celebrations and a US Embassy spokesman confirmed to Embassy magazine that it will be “following department guidance on this issue”.

The State Department Spokesman Robert Gibbs explained to journalists that the lifting of the ban on Iranian diplomats was part of the US policy of engagement with Iran, to which a reporter quipped: “Does it follow, if you’re reaching out to the Iranians, that if they, in fact, accept a hot dog, they would have to ‘unclench’ their fists?”