Wednesday, November 16, 2005

For Ron Silver, Is Working for Vinick Political Experience?

Commentary by the New Republic.

Newsday analyzes Ron Silver's switch in party allegiance and resulting appointment to the Institute of Peace by Bush:
" Around office watercoolers across the nation, fans of TV's "The West Wing" are wondering whether former Bartlet staffer Bruno Gianelli, played by the New York actor Ron Silver, was wise to jump Democratic ship and begin working for Alan Alda's Republican presidential candidate.

If Silver's real life is any indication, he made the right call.
Following recent accusations - citing former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Michael Brown, Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and others - that the Bush administration values partisan loyalty over substantive experience, does Silver's resume support his nomination to this select group?

Institute directors are required by law to have "practical or academic experience in peace and conflict resolution." Institute spokesman Gary Matthews said he is unaware of any director who had not spent a career in academia, international development, nonprofit work, or government.
He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, White House spokeswoman Erin Healey said, and has been involved with various international think tanks.

Silver is one of 4,200 members of the Council of Foreign Relations and serves on its Independent Task Force on Public Diplomacy. Council members are admitted based on peer recommendation. Task force members discuss issues and prepare reports.
"But a State Department source who asked not to be identified said this activity hardly represents substantial experience in peace and conflict resolution.

"To the extent that public diplomacy is always working toward [peace], you could make that stretch," she said. "But in terms of conflict resolution as the State Department normally sees it? Not really.""

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