"Big Dog That Can Hunt In The Tall Grass"


How could I resist? A metaphor, and a dog metaphor at that! Readers of the ill-attended Winnowing Fan will know that I am partial to canine behavioral explanations of international relations as my Dogma post will attest. So, I get it. I really do.  Matthew Barzun has been named America's Ambassador to the Court of St. James because he will get off the comfortable porch and wander the British Isles in search of prey in the tall grasslands. 

He knows how to hunt, we are assured, because Alec Ross personally trained him and 150 other Ambassadors over a four year period. Whoa!

Lots of tall grass in Sweden to be sure. I don't know Matthew Barzun or his service as the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden and he could be a very good man competent to represent the United States to the United Kingdom. He may be skilled at listening, engaging and gathering information about the country to which he is assigned to advise the president he serves. If he develops a good feel for the social and political context in which he will work, he may become a skilled negotiator. He may even intensify our bilateral collaboration on a range of significant global issues. Let's hope so. 

But Mr. Ross' testament to Barzun's qualifications lies elsewhere. We are being assured by Mr. Ross of digital diplomacy fame, that however skillfully Matthew Barzun might manage the core responsibilities of a diplomat, he will not loll around at court wearing pinstripes. We know this because he has forsaken the east and west coasts of his birth and fortune to dwell in the heartland of America.  He is well bred and well connected but certainly not elite. Moreover, we are assured that we can trust his hunting instincts because he is not of the State Department. He was chosen by the "young, technology-savvy and entrepreneurial" non-DC careerists of the West Wing because he too is "forward leaning." And, above all, he is so well trained by Mr. Ross that he can work off leash!  


Off-leash, in the tall grass


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