My negative powers of prediction have worked their magic again; I have hexed Joseph Nye, and John V. Roos, a Silicon Valley lawyer and major Obama fundraiser, has been tapped as Ambassador to Japan. According to the Asahi, the decision was precipitated by Jon Huntsman’s nomination as Ambassador to China (the balance!), the switch from Nye coming at the last minute.
The Asahi says that the Obama administration is tracing the “Schieffer” pattern in prioritizing the personal relationship over experience. Not so. That was certainly the case with Schieffer, a native Texan like Bush, though a Democrat from Texas. But Roos was an early supporter of and fundraiser for Obama; I’m sure the two hit it off, but the decision itself is very much political. In that sense, it’s actually the “close ally” treatment that places like London, Paris and (likely) Rome are used to getting, where major donors/fundraisers are routinely awarded extended vacations. Again, we are reminded of the difference between partnership and relationship.
Not that there’s any reason to believe that Roos will be less effective. In fact, I think he’ll be a great hit here.