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Roland Arnall is actually one of the biggest fundraisers for the Democratic Party out there.  His contributions skew heavily in favor of the Dems, although like many large donors, he also gives smaller sums to the other party.  While it's true, for example, that he gave a total of $25,000 to the RNC last October, one has to weigh that against the $360,000 he gave to the DNC in 2000, the $250,000 to the DNC in 2002 and the $20,000 he gave to the DCCC in 2003-04.  In terms of candidate giving over the past few years, he seems to split the baby after having given only to Dems through 2000.  (See these tables from Mother Jones and Opensecrets.org for details.)  His wife Dawn appears to be the big Republican donor in the family; only when paired with her do the donations swing over to the GOP side.

In their brief summary on Arnall's background (circa 2001), Mother Jones referred to Arnall as a "long-time Democratic fundraiser" who concentrated on California  and was "a major benefactor of [former] Governor Gray Davis."

As far as his lack of relevant diplomatic experience is concerned, that's certainly a fair point, but then, other recent U.S. Ambassadors to The Netherlands have had similar private sector-only backgrounds.  Terry Dornbush, who was nominated by Clinton in 1993 and served from 1994 to 1998, was "a private investor from Atlanta, is the formerly proprietor of The Dornbush Group, Inc., and has been Chairman and CEO of the Dixie Bag Company, President of DOAG USA, Inc., and Chairman of Thermo-Materials Corporation."  The career of the current ambassador, Clifford Sobel, is described as "noteworthy for its wide experience in the business world," where he had been most recently Chairman of Net2Phone, Inc.  The embassy bio also notes that Sobel "served as the New Jersey financial chairman of the primary and presidential campaigns for [then] Governor George W. Bush."

So while Arnall doesn't appear to bring anything at all to the table, he doesn't seem to be either a GOP money vending machine or qualitatively less qualified than his predecessors.  On the whole, he seems about par for the course, which is not to say that this should be considered acceptable in The Hague or elsewhere.

My own take on this is that it's not really Roland who's being rewarded by Bush, but rather Dawn, his wife.  Aside from havings scads of money to donate to Republicans, though, her potential qualifications are entirely lacking.  Roland, at least, has the appearance of significant business experience.  At the end of the day, I would merely suggest that the diary title read instead, "Wanted: diplomat. No qualifications needed. Just have wife send money."  In some ways, that makes this nomination look even worse.

by The Maven on Tue Aug 2nd, 2005 at 01:17:00 PM EST

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