Writing in the New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson has a fascinating profile write up of John Feely, the famous diplomat who walked away from his job in protest of the Trump administration’s toxic foreign policy.
Feeley is fifty-six years old and six feet one, with cropped silver hair and the exuberant demeanor of a Labrador retriever. In Panama, he established himself as both a forceful representative of American power and a minor Facebook celebrity. “He was definitely not an ordinary Ambassador,” Jorge Sánchez, a well-connected businessman, told me. “He had the charisma of someone out of social media.” An extroverted man who speaks fluent street Spanish (learned with help from Cherie, who is Puerto Rican), Feeley plays the cajón, dances salsa, loves bullfighting, and is pleased to tell you about his friendship with the late Gabriel García Márquez. He is also unmistakably American: a native New Yorker and a committed fan of football (the Giants), baseball (the Mets), poker, and jazz (Charlie Parker). A writer for La Estrella de Panamá, the country’s oldest newspaper, once noted, “Between anecdotes, he likes a drink of whiskey.” In conversation, Feeley expresses himself with a hand-over-heart earnestness that is rare among diplomats, who tend toward moral relativism. “He really believes in all that stuff like duty and honor,” a friend of his told me. “He’s a total Boy Scout.”