WASHINGTON: The Senate confirmed longtime Republican spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs last week. The former ambassador to Morocco will now lead America's efforts to improve its image among foreigners, particularly in predominately Muslim countries.
The confirmation ends an eight-month vacancy left by the departure of Charlotte Beers in March of this year. The former advertising executive abandoned the post for health reasons amid criticism of her Madison Avenue approach to public diplomacy.
Tutwiler acknowledged the challenges facing the State Department during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on October 29. "There is much that is respected and admired about our country," she said, "and yet, regrettably, we have lost some of the respect that was a part of past generations. We all know that we as a nation have a problem...one that must be seriously addressed."
The recent ambassador to Morocco, who reportedly resigned the post only after much cajoling by the Bush administration, added that America needs to do a better job of listening to foreign audiences. "As much as we would like to think Washington knows best, we have to be honest and admit we do not necessarily always have all the answers," she said.
Unlike her predecessor, Tutwiler has a long history with the State Department and government in general. She is a longtime mentor of Bush family loyalist James Baker, and served as a State Department spokeswoman during the Presidency of George H. W. Bush.
She declined to comment on any specific methods she may favor for achieving her goal of improving America's image, but State Department officials have privately indicated that the $15 million ad campaign launched by Beers, known as "Shared Values," will not be continued.