Political Appointee Handbook

Rebecca Strong
4 min readJan 13, 2016


As it often happens, online magazines go bust. And the stories that you have published with them disappear into the void. Turns out it happened to one of my humor pieces and because I think it was too funny to just let it die, I decided to re-publish it here.

Plus it may help someone. Like all those future political appointee ambassadors. Because it’s not easy to be rich, white, overwhelmingly male, and to be made the Ambassador in a country where hanging out with royalty is your new normal. We gotta feel for these guys.

I give you a handbook written in secret vaults of the Department of State and given to every entitled, rich asshole out there.



Classified By: Secretary of State.

1. Summary: In recent days Ambassadorial political appointments have been receiving unprecedented attention from both the mainstream press and satirical news outlets. To prevent further deterioration of this situation and a possible shift of focus from the incompetence of the nominees to current political Ambassadors behaving badly, we urge you to go through this handbook. End Summary

Use of Taxpayer Money

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1. Because the American public is sensitive to elitism and unnecessary taxpayer-funded expenses, please curb your appetite when it comes to renovating your official USG residences. A fighter-jet budget for renovation of a residence is excessive even if your spouse is a famous interior designer who bundled more money than you but did not get the Ambassadorship. State Department budget is not the place to take out your frustrations especially since we had nothing to do with the nominations. You know we would not have appointed you if we had a say.

2. We have received reports that some of you have sacked locally hired residence managers because they refused to allocate USG funds on caviar and oysters for your private dinners. Please refrain from dismissing staff especially when everyone in your embassy knows the reasons for their dismissal. If you could bundle large amounts of cash, surely you could afford to entertain your friends without asking taxpayers to pay for it. Moreover, remember that any dinner submitted for reimbursement must have a clear objective of furthering political or economic ties between two countries. Neither other wealthy American donors nor local nobility or celebrities contribute to this objective.

Relationship with Embassy staff

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3. Although you are technically the boss in the Embassy in which you are working, you need to remember that you know very little, or actually nothing, about the way State Department operates. Our Embassy staff is there to help you understand how we work, however, they are not there to serve your spouse or to help you find out “where the best parties are” (we are quoting one of you). Please refrain from turning into a tsar just because you live in a big house. If you want to be a tsar, you may want to consider working for Vladimir Putin.

4. Your spouse, although surely accomplished in their own right, does not get the prefix “Honorable” before their name. There is no reason for you to emphasize the distance between you and the staff of the Embassy — they already know it. So in order to keep up the morale and avoid losing our best people to Iraq and Afghanistan because they’d rather endure terrorists than work one more day with you, please stop channeling Donald Trump. And to answer the question that keeps surfacing: no — your spouse is not the First Lady equivalent and, thus, doesn’t get to demand their own staff.

5. We understand that when Beyoncé comes to town you would want to see her. We suggest you buy a ticket and refrain from asking your staff to procure you twelve free tickets in the VIP zone. Regardless of what you may think, you going to the Beyoncé concert isn’t about “saying hello to her while she is there representing the US” (again we are quoting one of you). If you did find tickets through your own contacts, congratulations. However, remember throwing a party for those contacts as a thank-you gesture is not an invoice-able expense.

Relationship with Local Contacts and Social Media

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6. Do not ask your Embassy staff to approach local nobility with requests to invite you to stay while you are traveling. You are not Henry VIII traveling the country with your court. If no five-star hotels are available, please consider a four-star option. As, we are sure you can appreciate, asking a Duchess or a Countess to provide lodging for you and your spouse so that you can stay an additional night “to party” (again, quoting one of you) doesn’t befit your status of an Ambassador of the most powerful nation on Earth.

7. And finally, we know you love your social media. We love it too. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can go a long way furthering the interests of the United States abroad. However, we urge you to use social media responsibly. No one needs any more evidence that you are, in fact, a big cat. That’s why there is no reason for you to populate your feed with pictures of royalty, nobility, and celebrities at your lavish dinner parties. You know you’ve gone too far when your followers begin confusing your feed with that of Downton Abbey. If that happens, please add photos of work you are actually doing on behalf of the United States (even if staged). And, to clarify — personal travel and partying doesn’t qualify as work.


(published in 2014 by now defunct Neutrons Protons)



Rebecca Strong

Author of WHO IS MR. PLUTIN? (Curiosity Quills Press, 2015) — a novel that foresaw Putin’s intentions to meddle in the US politics. www.rebecca-strong.com