Friday, April 29, 2005


Friends in high places

What exactly are the qualifications to be Ambassador to Canada? Former Governor of US border state? Nope. Former House of Representative or Senator will foreign relations or trade experience? Not quite. Apparently a pulse, a checkbook and a rolodex are the new lows in Washington.

Welcome to the world of David Wilkins, George W. Bush's pick as the new ambassador to Canada. It is a comforting to know, that like Bush, Wilkins will take the job having only been north of the border once, to visit Niagara Falls in the 1970s. You will have to excuse him since it has been awhile since he last visited so he will require a little time with a map.

Wilkins, who will get Senate approval in a few months, will take over the job after previously turning down offers from Bush to become a U.S. District Court judge and later, ambassador to Chile. In his 25 years in the state legislature, is credited with playing a prominent role in turning South Carolina into a Republican controlled state. In fact, he helped Bush turn his 2000 campaign around in the state primary following a New Hampshire upset by Senator John McCain and served as campaign chair in Bush's 2004 re-election bid.

To be fair to Wilkins, he is familiar with Canada on one trade issue - softwood lumber. Since South Carolina is a lumber-producing state he has been involved in the bitter dispute arguing the Canada is producing unfairly.

Got ready for moral high-ground lectures from Bush cronies about Canada's liberal drift.

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