- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2012

The diplomatic guessing game that comes with every president’s second term is sweeping swank salons from Washington to Hollywood, as big-time Obama supporters gossip about who is expected to get the coveted titles of Mister Ambassador or Madam Ambassador.

The choicest diplomatic posts almost always go to a president’s top fundraisers, and some of the most elegant ambassadorial residences are expected to have vacancies soon.

Ambassador Louis Susman is said to be preparing to resign from his post in London, opening up Winfield House on 12½ acres of prime land in Regent’s Park, and Ambassador Charles Rivkin is planning to leave the diplomatic mansion called the Hotel de Pontalba in Paris on the famed Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, resigned this month as ambassador to Ireland, where he lived in a grand residence completed in 1776 and surrounded by 1,760 acres of Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

With those and other plum positions opening up, diplomatic name-dropping is at a fevered pitch.

The Hollywood Reporter this month added four Tinseltown political donors to the name game in an article labeled “exclusive.”

The entertainment newspaper said President Obama is considering ambassadorial nominations for the Los Angeles-based White House decorator Michael Smith, TV producer Colleen Bell, movie-industry money manager John Emerson and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon.

“And the Westside L.A. dinner-party circuit has started buzzing with conversations about who else might be in the mix this time around,” wrote reporter Tina Daunt.

Mr. Smith later denied that he is a candidate for an ambassadorship.

“He has a business that requires his presence and contracts that go well into the next three years, so this was never even the remotest possibility,” his spokesman, Marc Szafran, told the Hollywood newspaper.

In an Anna Wintour update, the latest diplomatic gossip has the editor of Vogue magazine as the next U.S. ambassador to France.

Since sometime in the summer, the British-born fashion maven has been mentioned as Mr. Obama’s choice to replace Mr. Susman in London.

Panic in Africa

The U.S. Embassy in the strife-torn Central African Republic is trying to avoid another Benghazi scandal by exhorting the government to protect American diplomats, as rebels spread fear in the capital, Bangui.

“We urgently call on the government … to fulfill its responsibilities to protect diplomatic missions and U.S. citizens currently in the capital,” embassy spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters this week.

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