Madam would like to think that US chiefs of mission will always set the best possible example for their underlings - an example for said underlings to aspire to, be proud of, and remember with fond admiration. Sadly, the newest crop of inspection reports confirms that far too many ambassadors are instead still playing the role of the biggest kid on the block - or the biggest frog in the puddle.
Flogging favorite charities, calling consular staff instead referring visa cases correctly, and insulting people who actually know how to do their jobs might seem like relatively minor offenses, but they are offenses even so. And they can be far-reaching. When the person at the top plays loose with the rules and with commonly courteous behavior, who would be surprised to see those below give up on walking a more stringent but unrewarding path?
Madam's dear sister in arms, Diplopundit, has stormed about and poked at these offenses for ages; 3 FAM 1214 was grandly revised last year; long-winded promises were made
(in the midst of some confusion about whether or not inspection teams
would even continue to write IERs for sitting COMs) and yet here come these inspection reports again, showing continued low-grade, low-class behavior by those who should behave better than angels.
It appears that, still, a knuckle slap by inspectors may or may not lead to a leash-jerk by the appropriate bureau, which may or may not lead to improved behavior, which may or may not last longer than it takes to write a reassuring email and then forgetting about it. But at the same time, all ordinary, well-behaved, well-trained, doing-the-best-they-can FSOs know that they will be the ones who will suffer if they try to follow the rules when the boss's boss doesn't want them to. A single sentence in an EER review statement can doom a good officer to years of undeserved 03-dom.
Ah well, as Madam has often said, we don't do our jobs for thanks. And yet, to all those good officers who do their best under pressure to not do their best from those who should be setting the highest-quality example but instead can't be bothered, thank you.