It may not generally be considered the most high-profile post by the American public, but over the years, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has been an important position held by serious, experienced people.

To be sure, the two parties have frequently differed in their view of the United Nations. Democrats generally hold it in high esteem while Republicans are often more skeptical of the organization and its effectiveness. That hasn’t stopped Republican presidents from appointing qualified people as U.N. ambassador, though. Regardless of which party holds the Oval Office, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. has usually been an experienced diplomat, a prominent politician or both — such as George H.W. Bush and Adlai Stevenson.

President Donald Trump’s nominee to succeed Nikki Haley, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, would seem to break that mold. She hasn’t had a long career at the State Department, joining shortly after Trump’s inauguration. She has essentially no diplomatic experience at all and has never served in or run for public office. Instead, prior to joining the administration she worked at Fox News, where she was a co-host on their morning show “Fox and Friends.” Her journalism career doesn’t even feature an extensive history of reporting on foreign affairs or national security, which might make her appointment somewhat more plausible.

This isn’t the first time Trump has appointed someone with a background in cable news, of course — he’s tapped that vein multiple times now. His national security advisor, John Bolton, frequently appeared on Fox News as a commentator; his top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, hosted his own program on MSNBC before joining the administration. The difference between them and Nauert, though, is that they appeared on television because they were already considered experts in their field — they’d have been more than qualified to join the administration without ever being on TV. Other than her career as a journalist, her primary qualification for the position seems to be her loyalty to Trump and his agenda.

That’s not necessarily a problem in and of itself. Even if you completely disagree with every element of Trump’s policies, he got elected on that platform, and he deserves to have staff and advisers who will work to help him implement it. That’s why the White House staff positions, like chief of staff and national security advisor, aren’t confirmed by the Senate; they have a constituency of one – the president of the United States. If he’s happy with their performance, he can keep them as long as they’re willing to stay; if he’s dissatisfied with them, he can dismiss them overnight.

Cabinet secretaries and ambassadors are slightly different. Since they either run a major department or represent the nation abroad, they’re answerable to the entire country, not just to the president himself. That’s why the Senate has the authority, and the constitutional responsibility, to advise and consent on these nominations.

Now, they haven’t always fulfilled that responsibility wisely, particularly when it comes to ambassadorships. All too often, these positions go to politically well-connected donors who essentially bought their way into office. President Barack Obama, for example, attempted to nominate a man as ambassador to Norway who had never been there and thought the country had a president. Fortunately, he ended up withdrawing his nomination.

The United Nations role is far too visible a role to allow to go to someone simply because they are a strong supporter of the president, and at least on paper, it’s hard to see any other justification for nominating Nauert. If Trump wants to promote her for a job well done, he ought to consider finding a different role for her, either elsewhere in the State Department or in the White House itself.

A position in the communications office would be particularly appropriate, given her background.

If the White House does continue to move forward with the nomination, the U.S. Senate should vigorously exercise its right to advise and consent. They should certainly give her every opportunity to justify her appointment — that’s what hearings are for, after all. She could very well prove impressive under questioning from the Foreign Relations Committee, allaying concerns about her experience. However, if she stumbles there, the Senate should consider rejecting her nomination.

This position is too important — and the times far too perilous — for the Senate to simply rubber-stamp this nomination.

Jim Fossel, a conservative activist from Gardiner, worked for Sen. Susan Collins. He can be contacted at: [email protected]

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