Ric Oliveira: What’s an ambassadorship worth?

Ric Oliveira

So the guy goes out and gets a Portuguese waterdog for his White House but sends a Katz to Portugal?

We all know Massachusetts State Sen. Marc Pacheco wanted to be ambassador. He can’t speak the language, but there is no denying he has a Portuguese face and has tried really hard to get the post: off the record.

We know little about Mr. Allan Katz, the nominee ambassador to Portugal except that he raised around $500,000 for the president’s election campaign. He speaks no Portuguese, and knows “nada,” if anything, about Portugal.

So, outside of the fact that he has no qualifications in the foreign service, bought his way into Portugal’s diplomatic scene, and is the new symbol for the lack of respect shown to the Portuguese community by the President of the United States and, perhaps, our Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ U.S. senators, what’s not to like about the guy?

Perhaps, we should lay out a chouriço carpet for him (Sorry, he won’t get that).

OK, maybe we should get him a copy of “Kale to the Chief” that he can perform with bags of change bouncing off his knee ... cha-ching ... cha-ching … ching … ching.

So, unless Senators John F. Kerry and William G. Kirk, Jr. of Massachusetts and Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed of Rhode Island all of a sudden decide that they will show respect to the people they represent rather than play hack with no sack with the president, this guy gets the nod.


Now in defense of the waterdog-loving but community-disrespecting president, he is doing what almost all the other presidents before him have done with this post in times of peace.

The truth is so many of us expected that Obama would be different that he would weigh decisions not based on the weight of contributions but the balance of justice. Instead we get $500,000 worth of change you can believe in.

The Portuguese community has never had an ambassador to Portugal whom symbolizes anything other than a dollar sign in peace time.

So, while some Latino communities in the United States can take pride in the fact that Obama gave them people of Latino descent to represent them, we get ... a waterdog.

Now, we have no reason to see this Katz for anything other than a man who believed in Barack Obama and had the money to prove it. But we can also see this is a man who knows nothing about us, has little connection to us, yet, will stand in an office that almost all of us are more qualified to fill than he is.

We may be poor, unable or unwilling to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the president of this nation, but we know Portuguese, understand the cultures of America and Portugal, and this guy, well, he understands the game, and as the president has made clear with his nomination this week, we are not players, nor even comprise a concern.

And so I ask, how much is the Ambassadorship to Portugal worth?

A president’s reputation!

Ric Oliveira is publisher of the O Jornal.