The allegations center not on Garcetti personally but around his former aide Rick Jacobs. Still it was deemed serious enough that Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono told reporters earlier in the day that she decided to vote against the nomination after she was provided “credible information given to me in confidence.”
Seligman was more direct, saying Garcetti was undeserving of the ambassadorial assignment and blasting the Biden administration and most Democratic lawmakers for ignoring the allegations.
“Unfortunately the White House has put undue pressure on Democrats to vote for Eric Garcetti because he has been a very, very loyal person to President Biden,” Seligman said in a CNN interview, noting that he would be overseeing more than 2000 people in India and she feels “scared for the people who will be around him.”
The Democratic leadership however reposed full faith in a man seen as being close to President Biden.
Typically, large and important countries get as ambassadors political appointees who have the ear and often a direct line to the President. JK Galbraith was a Kennedy confidante, and the story goes that he frequently bypassed his notional boss, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, to go directly to the President, once writing to him that trying to communicate via Rusk was “like trying to fornicate through a mattress.” Chester Bowles, Kenneth Keating and Daniel Moynihan, all political appointees who went to New Delhi after Galbraith, were heavyweights in their own right, having served in the House and Senate.
Starting in 1980 though, Washington sent a series of career foreign service officials (fso) to serve as ambassadors in New Delhi. Although some of them were distinguished careerists — Pickering and Wisner among them — it wasn’t until Bill Clinton, preparatory to his visit to India in 2000, sent Richard Celeste, a former Governor of Ohio, that political appointees became the norm again. Since then, with the exception of Nancy Powell in 2012-2014, all US ambassadors to New Delhi have been political appointees: Robert Blackwill, David Mulford, Timothy Roemer, Richard Verma, and Kenneth Juster.
Most of them have sailed through the confirmation process in politically propitious times, when India’s growing heft begged for a quick shoo-in. But such is the prevalent pathology in Washington that all bets are off when it comes to a political appointee even when global strategic developments cry out for a quick replacement.
India was not alone in this regard. Two years into its terms, the Biden White House still hasn’t managed to get ambassadors in 40 world capitals. Saudi Arabia has not had a US ambassador for almost as long, and that hasn’t turned out very well for the United States.