Who is Matthew Barzun and why has he been called a “tech-savvy Obama insider with a forward leaning approach to diplomacy“? He’s also referred to as “His Excellency,” but not in every setting. Writing in The Independent, one journalist calls the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom “America’s diplomatic dude.” And he’s bringing the élan of “cultural diplomacy”, Silicon Valley (and Kentucky)-style.
So when the NYT writes about his efforts to reach a key strategic group, it sounds like a case of good old-fashioned diplomacy: go into a rough crowd (teenagers) and actually listen to what they have to say.
Later, he said, “I want to give them room to be able to disagree,” not to force arguments on them. “If you go in thinking you’re in the argument-winning business, you can end up seeing a lot of arms folded,” he said. “But if you listen, people hear you differently.”
The reviews were good. Euphrose Tambwe, 16, said, “He asked us what we thought and then explained what he thought.”
She stopped for a moment. “It was really his honesty that got me,” she said. “I thought he’d come to say ‘America is great and don’t believe the media,’ and the fact that he admitted mistakes struck me.”
If that isn’t cool enough, how about stopping by the Ambassador’s Residence to enjoy a concert by The National?