There are few cushier jobs in U.S. diplomacy than an ambassador post in Luxembourg (the Bahamas, maybe?). In fact, it took venture capitalist and Seattle native Cynthia Stroum about $500,000, raised for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, to land the job as a reward. Unfortunately, Stroum managed to screw up the gig big-time, and she's now back in Seattle trying to convince reporters that her State Department-noted incompetence is all a big misunderstanding.
The Ambassador's confrontational management style, chronic gaps in senior and other staffing caused by curtailments, and the absence of a sense of direction have brought major elements of Embassy Luxembourg to a state of dysfunction. These curtailments entail considerable costs to the U.S. Government. Morale among Americans and local staff is very low, and stress levels are high. Most employees describe the Ambassador as aggressive, bullying, hostile, and intimidating, which has resulted in an extremely difficult, unhappy, and uncertain work environment.
Stroum's "aggressive, bullying, hostile, and intimidating" management style was apparently so bad that several embassy employees requested to be transferred to Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, facing suicide bombers and Taliban fighters outside the embassy are preferable to facing Ms. Stroum inside it.
Besides the whole being-a-terrifying-human thing, Stroum also apparently took far too many (14) taxpayer-funded trips, ordered $3,500 worth of wine and liquor, and obsessed over the remodeling of the embassy bathrooms.
After the State Department audit was released last week, Stroum quickly resigned and hopped a flight back to Seattle. She's since busied herself with telling everyone about the "huge and amazing support" she's received from Luxembourg government officials who actually think she's super-swell.
She also tells The Seattle Times that "there's more to the story," and that she'll spill the beans later (perhaps after the 2012 campaign?).