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Richard M. Nixon would shock the sensibilities of today’s politically correct world of diplomacy with his blunt view of career diplomats as “eunuchs,” his salty assessment of a well-endowed envoy, and his defense of political donors as ambassadors.

Nixon revealed his standards for picking ambassadors in testimony before a federal grand jury in 1975, nearly one year after he resigned from the presidency during the Watergate scandal and received a pardon from President Gerald R. Ford. The National Archives and the Nixon Presidential Library released a transcript of the testimony last week.

Part of the grand jury probe involved accusations that Nixon sold ambassadorships for large campaign donations, a charge he forcefully denied. Nixon, like other presidents, rewarded some top supporters with plum diplomatic posts but insisted he never offered an appointment in exchange for campaign cash.

He defended politically appointed ambassadors, saying that “some of the very best ambassadors have been non-career ambassadors who have made substantial contributions.” Nixon noted President Harry S Truman’s appointment of socialite Perle Mesta as ambassador to Luxembourg.

“Perle Mesta wasn’t sent to Luxembourg because she had big bosoms,” he said. “Perle Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution.”

He also said President Franklin D. Roosevelt rewarded Joseph P. Kennedy with the ambassadorship to Britain for making a large campaign donation.

Nixon expressed contempt for career diplomats, who still get less glamorous hardship postings.

“As far as career ambassadors, most of them are a bunch of eunuchs,” he said. “I don’t mean that in a physical sense, but I meant it in an emotional sense, in a mental sense. They aren’t for the American free-enterprise system.”


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Tony Blair, a former prime minister of Britain. He joins Education Secretary Arne Duncan for an education forum at the Newseum.

• Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and now executive director of U.N. Women. She participates in a Council on Foreign Relations forum on women in peacemaking efforts.

• Bharat Karnad of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India. He discusses U.S.-Indian relations at a forum at the Heritage Foundation.

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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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