Embassy Row

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In a rare case of bipartisanship in pursuit of a politically plumb job, a U.S. senator has endorsed the man he defeated in an election to serve as ambassador to Vietnam or in another top foreign policy post in the Obama administration.

Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota Democrat, recently wrote to President Obama, asking him to consider Republican Larry Pressler for a political appointment. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, another South Dakota Democrat, joined Mr. Johnson in endorsing Mr. Pressler, a former three-term senator whom Mr. Johnson defeated in 1996.

Mr. Pressler bucked his party to endorse Mr. Obama in last year’s presidential election and could become the second Republican the new president appoints to an ambassadorship. Mr. Obama named Dan Rooney, the 76-year-old owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a lifelong Republican, as ambassador to Ireland.

“While we admit it is unusual for two Democratic members of Congress to endorse someone from the other political party and, in particular, in the case of Sen. Johnson, who defeated Sen. Pressler in 1996, the fact is that he served his country in Congress for 22 years and, prior to that, in Vietnam as a soldier,” Mr. Johnson and Mrs. Sandlin said in their letter to the president.

“He used good judgment when he endorsed your campaign last fall, an act which no doubt required a great deal of courage on his part.”

The options they suggested was the appointment as ambassador to Vietnam or as a representative to the Asian Development Bank or the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Mr. Pressler said he was overwhelmed by their support.

“It makes me feel like a million dollars,” he told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which first reported the story. “I am flabbergasted and pleased.”

Mr. Pressler, 67, served in the Army from 1966 to 1968 and later joined the Foreign Service. He was elected to the House in 1975 and to his first term in the Senate in 1979. He is a former chairman of the Committee.Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.

Most of the top diplomatic posts go to political supporters of a president. Mr. Obama, for example, is considering Louis Susman, a top campaign fundraiser from Chicago, as ambassador to Britain and David Jacobson, another Chicago supporter, as ambassador to Canada.


Spelling the name leader of Libya has plagued journalists since the tyrannical colonel seized power in a military coup in the North African nation in 1969.

The Library of Congress lists 32 spellings, including “Muammar al-Gaddafi,” “Muammar Khaddafi” and “Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi.” In 2004, the London Evening Standard compiled a list of 37 different spellings.

The Associated Press, which sets style rules for most news organizations including The Washington Times, adopted “Moammar Gadhafi,” after the Libyan leader, himself, signed his name that way in response to a letter from a Minnesota school in 1986. That was the closest to an official translation of his Arabic name.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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