A couple of years ago, I took the U.S. Foreign Service Officer's written exam again, the first part of the multi-step process the US government uses to hire its junior diplomats and other people who staff its embassies and consulates. I breezed through the written test, of course, and was on track to take the next step -- the all-day oral assessment -- which, while I wasn't guaranteed to pass it, had a pretty good shot (having actually passed it once before) to go work for the U.S. State Department.
By the time the oral assessment came up, I'd gotten a pretty good job and wasn't willing to go through the hassle -- if I'd succeeded in the assessment -- in switching careers. The distinct possibility of having to work for the Bush Administration (this was before the last election, so I considered it to be a possibility, not a certainty) didn't help matters. So I passed.
It's a good thing I didn't follow through, otherwise I might have wound up working with idiots like David Wilkins, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada who, in his Senate confirmation hearing, expressed uncertainty about exactly where Canada was.
In an apparent bid to become the Dan Quayle of the US Foreign Service, Wilkins recently gave a speech to the Canadian Club (no, not the whiskey) in Ottawa in which he, basically, told Canadians politicians to watch what they say about the U.S. in their upcoming elections.
I mean, geez, this is major-league dumb: in addition to conflating criticism of George W. Bush with criticism of the United States (hint for Republicans: not even close), does he expect that lecturing Canadian politicians against speaking out against U.S. foreign policy would be the least bit effective? What did he expect them to do? Look down at their shoes and mumble, "Gosh, sorry Uncle Sam, won't do it again?" He might just as well have said "I double-dog dare you to do it!" Hell, if I were a Canadian politician I'd be saying rude things about the Bush administration just on general principle. You're not the boss of me, eh?
The horrible thought that occurs to me is this: given that Wilkins is a political hack appointee, not a professional diplomat, there's the scary possibility that his speech was actually written by some low-level career diplomatic-service employee, which is even less of an excuse since a professional foreign-service officer, junior-level or not, ought to know what the hell he or she is doing. Meaning it's professional stupidity, and even more reason it was a good idea not to go work for these people.