I was thinking that a personal trainer might make a nice gift. Or a guarantee that my memory wouldn't fail me. Or maybe some kind of assurance that our twins would graduate from high school in one piece. Actually I guess I mean two pieces. But I got a highly qualified ambassador instead. My friend David Huebner has been nominated to become the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.
We all know the historical drill. Ambassadors are often big fundraisers, folks to whom some debt is owed. A position seen by some as ceremonial. High profile. Cushy. And when Barack Obama was elected, we kept our fingers crossed that he saw these positions differently.
His nomination of David Huebner tells us something very important. It tells us that Ambassador posts should be filled by international experts. Ambassadors should be highly qualified for the job.
There can be no dispute about the impeccable credentials of David Huebner. Mr. Huebner comes to this appointment with impressive credentials as an international expert and noted arbitration specialist, with particular experience throughout the Pacific Rim. Mr. Huebner is currently the head of the International Disputes Practice at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton based in Shanghai. Prior to Sheppard Mullin, Mr. Huebner served as the global chairman of Coudert Brothers.
International expert. Check. Arbitration specialist. Resolving disputes. Check. Oh and did I mention that he is wicked smart? Check. And deeply committed to the ideals and values of our democracy. Check. Each of these is a must for any person who will represent us outside of the United States.
Because you see, the world doesn't think much of America these days. President Obama's predecessor (he-who-shall-not-be-named) decimated our reputation as a contributing citizen in our world community. There is work to be done.
This is what matters the most to me. I worked hard to get Barack Obama elected President. I deserve to see that he is hiring the best and the brightest. We all do.
And yes, David Huebner is openly gay. I've know him for a long time. And so yes, I did the happy dance in my living room last night when I read the press release. Another illustration of this administration's commitment to reflect the diversity of our society through hires and appointments.
But make no mistake - the passion David Huebner has demonstrated for equality is at its core about his commitment to the ideals and values of our democracy. He too believes a more perfect union is possible.
I believe that one of the biggest threats to the security of the United States is that our reputation as a member of this global community of ours has been shattered. We need help. We need highly qualified ambassadors all around the world.
Here's hoping that the Senate will confirm David Huebner quickly. That he will be seen for exactly what he is - a highly qualified candidate. And that his work in the gay rights movement will be seen for exactly what it is - a commitment to justice, equality and to the core ideals on which our country was founded.