Tuesday, June 19, 2012


President Obama's nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq withdrew his name from consideration Monday afternoon, after it became clear that support for him had cratered (CQ subscription required) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The New York Times has the letter,which alludes to the adultery scandal -- conveniently preserved on National Security Council emails -- that swept up Brett McGurk and his now wife (then mistress), a former Wall Street Journal reporter.

In the immediate aftermath, I saw some on Twitter comment that McGurk was a victim of the overly intense media scrutiny of political figures' personal lives. In general, I'd agree that the MSM obsession with political sex scandals borders on the pathological, exaggerating beyond all reasonable sense of scope and scale the import of any given incident.

In this particular case, however, I don't think that's the issue. McGurk's nomination MAY have survived had someone not leaked a trove of unfortunately worded emails online, but it was never going to be an easy road. As I reported at the beginning of the month (CQ subsciption required), a number of lawmakers had serious doubts about McGurk, both based on his policy choices and his qualifications.

Rumors about his personal life had also been floating around, but the publication of the emails only played into the notion, already embraced by some, that McGurk did not have the judgement or maturity or gravitas to head up the United States' biggest diplomatic footprint overseas.