Embassy Row

Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

'WE'RE BEST FRIENDS'

Twelve generations after John Winthrop left England in 1630 to seek religious liberty in Massachusetts, his descendant Matthew Winthrop Barzun hopes to return as U.S. ambassador.

Winthrop, the first governor of the Bay Colony, borrowed a phrase from the Sermon on the Mount to describe the promise of the New World and set a rhetorical style for presidents from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.

We must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, he told fellow Puritans on the voyage to Boston. The eyes of all people are upon us.

Mr. Barzun told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations this week that Winthrop's words apply today in the ties between United States and the United Kingdom.

They describe the hopes and expectations held by so many around the world for the U.S.-U.K. relationship, he said.

President Obama last month nominated the 42-year-old Internet entrepreneur who helped bankroll both of his presidential campaigns. First. he appointed Mr. Barzun ambassador to Sweden, where he served from 2009 to 2011. Mr. Barzun's wife, Brooke, is heiress to the Jack Daniels whiskey empire.

Mr. Barzun said during his confirmation hearing this week that he struggled to explain to the youngest of his three children the meaning of the special relationship between the two countries.

Words like 'allies' didn't work, he said. 'Historic bilateral bonds' were met with a blank stare. I thought for a while and then said, 'We're best friends.' That worked.

Mr. Barzun's nomination surprised many diplomatic observers who expected Mr. Obama to chose Anna Wintour, the British-born editor of American Vogue fashion magazine.

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A former aide to late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dismissed Mr. Barzun's nomination as an insult, adding that Mr. Obama's former fundraiser is unqualified to serve in America's top diplomatic post. …