After Tuesday’s confirmation of soap opera producer Colleen Bell to the position of U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, White House officials are struggling to explain just why exactly she was nominated in the first place.
According to CNN, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked during a daily press briefing what exactly made Bell the most qualified person for the job. Earnest’s response, however, didn’t offer much of an explanation. Earnest described Bell as “somebody who obviously has succeeded in, you know, in the business world,” and said that she is “somebody that the President has confidence will be able to maintain our relationship with the government and the people of Hungary."
Bell notably played a role in raising millions of dollars for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, but Earnest denied that her fundraising efforts played any part in her nomination and ultimately her confirmation. “I can tell you that that's not the reason she was chosen," Earnest said at the briefing. Earnest maintained that the Obama administration feels Bell was the right choice, and that the President “has complete confidence in her ability to represent the United States in that country." In 2010, Bell was appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts at the Kennedy Center.
Senator John McCain strongly opposed Bell’s nomination shortly before the Senate voted to confirm her, and expressed his opposition on the Senate floor. “We're about to vote on a totally unqualified individual to be ambassador to a nation which is very important to our national security interests," McCain said.
“I am not against political appointees,” said Senator McCain, “but here we are, a nation that's on the verge of seceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator and getting in bed with Vladimir Putin and we're gonna send the producer of 'The Bold and the Beautiful' as our ambassador.”
The Senate also confirmed another Democratic fundraiser, Noah Mamet, as Ambassador to Argentina.