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Obama Announces Rooney as Ambassador to Ireland

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By Al Kamen
Lady Luck naturally smiled on Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney on St. Patrick's Day, the day the White House chose to announce his long-expected nomination to be ambassador to Ireland. Rooney, a member of the Football Hall of Fame who led the Steelers to a record six national championships, is a lifelong Republican.

But he was so inspired by Barack Obama that he endorsed and stumped with the candidate, a crucial stamp of approval in a football-crazed and electorally critical swing state.

Rooney, who needs to be confirmed by the Senate for the job, has been long-active in Irish organizations. He co-founded the Ireland Funds, a nonprofit that raises money to support education and the arts in Ireland. In 1976, he established the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, which is awarded to young Irish writers.

Rooney recently told a Pittsburgh radio station he did not endorse or campaign for Obama "with the idea of getting anything." But "if he calls me," Rooney added, "obviously I'm going to say that I'll do anything I can for you."

Dublin sounds pretty good.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 17, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Foggy Bottom  
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Next: Eye on the Irish at the White House


Thats what I like about "Big Brother Obama" he all ways in front of the camera with a good news story.

VJ Machiavelli

Posted by: VJMachiavelli1 | March 18, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm not Irish. But I am a Catholic, and I have marched in parades and drunk beer and have celebrated St Patrick's Day for many years. But this Washington shebang tops everything . . . . even Hollywood . . . . . green water flowing in the fountain, meeting with Irish politicos, shamrock luncheon, Paul Muldoon, Maggie McCarthy, the Shannon Rovers, revelry (booze), etc. What didn't they think of? I am really pleased, though, with the appointment of Dan Rooney. The Rooneys are a fine Irish Pittsburgh family.

rmk, akron

Posted by: rmkraus | March 17, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Usually I think these kinds of appointments are absurd, but this one makes more sense than most. Mr. Rooney has a history of supporting the Northern Ireland peace process and is very familiar with the issues.

Posted by: adriennevollmer | March 17, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I know these kind of appointments happen in every administration, but honestly, this is just silly.

Posted by: MikeL4 | March 17, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Within less than a year, Mr. Rooney has bucked his Republican Party and the Penna-popular Senator Clinton to help Senator Obama to the Presidency, won a wonderfully-exciting Super Bowl and got appointed Ambassador to Ireland on St. Patrick's Day. Congratulations! Well done all around.

Posted by: JulesJames | March 17, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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