March 8, 2008

Why did Obama let Clinton jerk him around over Samantha Power?

Here's the revolting and ridiculous conference call, in which Clinton campaign hacks pretend it's a giant outrage that the brilliant Samantha Power applied the word "monster" to Hillary Clinton. Power withdrew herself from the campaign, but where was Barack Obama? Why didn't he support her?

Here's Matthew K. Johnson:
For those of us who follow foreign policy and human rights policy in particular, Samantha Power is a fascinating and inspiring figure - a brilliant woman who has lectured and written equally from her heart and her head. Her Pulitzer-prize winning book A Problem From Hell is a passionately argued and beautifully written description of America's at times shameful and always complicated history during the genocides of the 20th century - it remains my favorite non-fiction book; the first one I will recommend to friends and colleagues and has inspired more than one of my own written works.... Her profession, and her approach to it, makes her a somewhat undiplomatic politcian, but I was still absolutely thrilled that she joined Obama's campaign, and was one of the first reasons that I became an Obama supporter - clearly he was attracting the top minds, many of whom were critical of the practices of the past (Power, like myself, is very critical of the Clinton years - the inaction on Rwanda, the ignorance of the power of strong leadership in the Balkans).
What do we learn from this incident? I don't need to learn that Clinton will do whatever it takes to win, and perhaps that does earn the label "monster," but let's not ignore the deficiencies in Barack Obama. How does he intend to win by shrinking away when her people pull their tricks? Where is his vigor? And, more importantly, where is his courage? It was cowardly to allow the Clinton campaign to savage Power and rip her away from him.

And now I'm wondering whether there is anything courageous about Barack Obama. Obama supporters, please: Make the case to me that the man has courage. And don't say that he opposed the war in Iraq, because I don't think, in the position he was in at the time, that it took courage to oppose the war. That served his political ambitions. Tell me something he did that was difficult to do, that took some risk to do what was right.

IN THE COMMENTS: Balfegor said:
I've read speculation that he may have used the "monster" kerfluffle as cover for tossing her overboard because in that same interview, she claimed he wasn't actually serious about getting out of Iraq in 16 months or whatever his plan was -- once he was president he'd discard his campaign plan and take a new look at the situation.
If this is the reason he let her go, it's a defense against the charge that he let Hillary push him around, but it only makes me worry more that he lacks courage. And ironically, Power's statement about how he would handle Iraq reinforced what I've been assuming, and this assumption was central to my decision to vote for him in the Wisconsin primary.

So what am I to think now that he let Power go? That what she said about Iraq was wrong or that it was right? If it's wrong, I like him less on policy. If it's right, then I'm more upset about the estrangement of Power and concerned that Obama is dishonest, saying things to get elected that he's never going to do in office. And yet — this is so troublesome for me! — I'm hoping that, if elected, he'll listen and reassess and exercise the good judgment that he now applies to the task of getting elected and the results of his presidential decisionmaking will be much more to my liking.

93 comments:

rastajenk said...

It's too bad she got whacked for saying the truth.

AllenS said...

Barack H. Obama: it's not what you see, but what you think you see. The longer that you look at the man, the less there is to see.

3rd Way said...

Referring to your opponent as a monster is unbecoming. Could it be that Obama wants to take the high road and remain head and shoulders above Clinton ethically?

It is a good strategy to take the high road at every juncture. The lower Clinton goes his best defense is to point out that he doesn't go there. He can simply step back and say "I am different, I am not like them".

There is a substantive difference in the way Obama and Clinton have attacked each other. If Obama can point out those difference he should assure himself the nomination.

George said...

"The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred."

--Quote from her book "A Problem From Hell: American and the Age of Genocide" on Amazon.

Gee, when the South seceded how many soldiers in the Union Army died to hold the nation together...and ultimately end slavery?

How many Americans died in the fight to utterly crush fascism in Europe and Asia?

How many Americans died preventing the Soviet-backed North Koreans from conquering South Korea?

How many Americans died trying to stop the Soviet-backed North Vietnamese from conquering Vietnam?

How many South Vietnamese did the Communists send to "re-education" camps?

Crude estimates range from 500,000 to over 2 million inmates. Estimated death figures due to diseases, starvation, execution and working accidents range from tens of thousands to over 100,000 dead.

Sorry we're not perfect, Ms. Power.

Ann Althouse said...

3rd way, that's very nice, but nice isn't enough for a world leader. This incident made me worry that Obama is not a courageous man. I'm asking for him to be defended against that. You've offered nothing on the point that I'm wondering about.

ricpic said...

I feel pretty, oh so pretty, and I've got that just right look that sells,
I'm so bright and I look so right and I have all the trite stuff down so well
That I'm incontrovertibly swell.

Balfegor said...

It was cowardly to allow the Clinton campaign to savage Power and rip her away from him.

I've read speculation that he may have used the "monster" kerfluffle as cover for tossing her overboard because in that same interview, she claimed he wasn't actually serious about getting out of Iraq in 16 months or whatever his plan was -- once he was president he'd discard his campaign plan and take a new look at the situation. I think there was another foreign policy issue she undermined his "official" position on, but it's hard to remember which, because recently, all his advisers seem to have been going about revealing that their advice is 180 degrees at odds with what Obama is actually saying. I wonder whether they're feeling frustrated that their candidate isn't listening to them, and trying (unsuccessfully) to put a bit of pressure on him?

---

On the courage issue, Obama has a decent tu quoque argument against Clinton, though. Her weeping seems to have moved a lot of voters, but what's she going to do when Iran goes nuclear? Throw tears at them?

rhhardin said...

He didn't dump Michelle yet.

3rd Way said...

Ann - He is not battling Al Qaeda, he is trying to take out a Clinton. You can argue that both are equally ruthless, but going for the jugular on Hillary might not be as good a strategy on her as it is with Osama.

As to your bravery question. It was damn courageous of Obama to step outside of the box and say we should circumvent and Muhsarraf and go directly for Al Qaeda in Waziristan. He took some serious flack for going out on a limb with that stance. Your guy McSame characterized it as naive.

I did not see anyone complaining when a drone took unilateral action and blew up the purported Al Qaeda #3 using the exact strategy that Obama proposed a few weeks earlier.

PWS said...

I question your premise Ann. Why is it the right thing to defend Power? Calling someone a monster is not only not new politics. It is a personal attack that even the old guard sometimes nominally denounce.

Perhaps another way to look at it is that as a leader, Obama is not developing a team around him that will buy in to his new management style / political philosophy (OK calling it a philosophy is a little generous). That concerns me at least as much as courage. The slogan has to be more than just a slogan.

Andrew said...

I understand your point, but I don't think this is a case of Obama's courage. He hasn't made any public statements about Samantha Power's comments, other than a campaign issued "condemnation" (none that I found/saw). I think that Power resigned on her own accord, and not because the campaign fired her. The NAFTA issue was more damaging than the Power issue, and yet Obama didn't force out Golsbee, so why he would do that to Power isn't clear. There probably hasn't been push back from the Obama camp because Power wanted out. If she didn't want to resign, he would have been out there supporting her.

Your question is flawed. No candidate can claim to be courageous - that's an empty adjective in politics. Let's look at the personal judgments he has made, minus the Iraq vote.

How often is it that Ivy-grads go work in the poorest sections of dangerous cities? We always hear about those who leave the depths of poverty and make it big. Who goes around LOOKING for the depths of poverty?

Despite the rigors of the campaign right after Iowa, Obama still set aside the time and effort to follow up on the tensions in Kenya, talking not only to the leaders on both sides, but also to State Dept. personnel and Sec. Rice constantly. I think this is especially telling, because no matter what happens with the campaign, he is still concerned with what is happening around the world.

Without a win in Iowa, Obama's campaign was just a dream of "latte liberals." Despite the odds against him, his campaign STILL managed to organize operations in nearly every state. Sen. Clinton did not have contingency plans in the event her coronation didn't go as planned. This too is telling, because it shows a strong dedication to a cause even when the cause was hanging by a thread. And lets not forget, right before Iowa, the polls were all mixed. No one thought he would win and Clinton would place third.

How about ethics and lobbying disclosure? No, I am not talking about actually pushing for the bill. Remember how he stood up to McCain on the Senate floor when McCain accused him of behaving out of line for taking the lead on ethics reform? In the Senate, you just don't go after the elders, like McCain. Obama did, because he knew he was right.

I could find some more, but this comment is becoming more of a post.
Essentially, Obama has made the right judgments, even when they might not be in his immediate best interest. I think that is much more indicative of a capable President than some of the other candidates we have.

AlphaLiberal said...

Good question, well put, Ann.

As a latecomer to the Obama who has never read his books or biography, I don't know the full answer.

Running for President and mounting such a well-organized campaign took some stones. But I don't know what he has faced in his life and can't speak to it.

Here's a Youtube that makes a good case. In the march to the Iraq war there was great pressure built up upon everyone to support a military strike against a nation that, as history shows, presented no clear and present danger to our nation. It was war hysteria, plain and simple.

In those days the press was being bullied to present the war case as fact. The Dixie Chicks received death threats when they criticized Bush. The conventional wisdom was hardwired with paranoia about an immensely powerful and well-armed Saddam Hussein striking us from Iraq.

Barack Obama saw the holes in that argument, as many of us did, and stood up against the war drive and opposed it. He put his political career on the line.

Anyway, here's the video: Rep Jan Schakowsky on Barack Obama's Courage.

SMGalbraith said...

The United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide and had in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.

My guess is that Power is arguing that the US never intervened exclusively (or even predominately) on humanitarian grounds to stop genocide. That our interventions always had a large component of national interest in them.

After all, we didn't (shamefully) go into Europe to stop the Holocaust. We went in out of self interest and national security concerns.

Stopping genocide qua genocide was never, she apparently is arguing, the raison d'etre of our actions.

Middle Class Guy said...

I do not think it is a question of courage. It is a question of ruthlessness. Hillary Clinton is much more ruthless than Obama. She will do anything, use anybody, and take any road. When caught, she will decry the unfair attacks on her and turn them around on the accusers. The Clinton political rules are their are no rules.

This is what Obama has to change. No more Mr. nice guy. He has to use the Clinton political rules against the Clintons. He needs to shed the nice guy image he has cultivated and become a ruthless iron fist in a velvet glove to give the monseter the knock out punch.

Hypocrite detector said...

this is so troublesome for me!

Oh, not it's not! You're for McCain. Everyone knows you're for McCain.

Are you really going to carry this phony charade on and on for months?!

Or will you finally fess up, honor your so-called vow, and not vote in a state where McCain would not possibly win anyway? Talk about a vow that means nothing!!

PatCA said...

But why would you think he had courage in the first place? His whole persona and campaign is a blank slate based on his personal charm and coolness. He is charming and cool! But he steps away from political dogfights because he has no ammo--his record and his policies are thin. There is more meat in McCain's one ad than in Obama's whole campaign to date.

The Canadians objected to his manipulation, Power called Hillary a monster and flipped on his Iraq plan, his intel adviser blasted him--someone had to go.

And why is Power 'brilliant'? An academic who writes a book blaming America for genocide is already halfway to a Pulitzer. She wants us to occupy Israel/Palestine to keep the peace! But not Iraq...I'm not listening to her any more.

former law student said...

The Honeymooners, January 1956

BARACK:
(Pointing at Samantha) YOU! . . . ARE A (very in-her-face:) BLAH-BER-MOUTH!

ANN:
(Jumping out of her seat) Barack!

BARACK:
A BLAH-BER-MOUTH! . . . YOU! . . . BLABBERMOUTH! . . . (indicating the door) OUT! . . . OOUUT! . . . OUT!

SAMANTHA:
Well, I've had enough!

BARACK:
OUT!

SAMANTHA:
Well I'm going home! Oh!

BARACK:
(As she exits) BLAH-BER-MOUTH!

garage mahal said...

Clinton Rule #4

Anything negative said about the Clintons is their fault.

Trevor Jackson said...

C'mon, garage. Who's defending Power's original statement? And in what way is what she said worse than Wolfson's Ken Starr smear? At least Power's statement can be taken as a slip out of frustration. Wolfson's comment was clearly a canned line.

Sheepman said...

This wasn't a case of caving in to the HRC attack machine - the US media was running the story anyway.

After two self-inflicted wounds caused by his staff speaking out of turn, he needed to assert control over his staff and advisers. IMO, he would have looked weak if he tolerated more of this.

As for courage, McCain is the only one who excels in that department. HRC and Obama, like most politicians, take the expedient route when in a jam.

New York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
New York said...

In 2001 Samantha Power was some kind of "reverse neocon" who wanted to invade Israel to impose a settlement (here)

Zeb Quinn said...

Samantha Power revealed herself to be a not ready for prime time player, and it wasn't just with this one "monster" comment. Her entire European book tour was a gaffe-after-gaffe disaster. She was exactly what Obama did not need, and especially not at this point in his campaign effort, and even more especially because he himself is fending off the same criticism, that he's not ready for prime time. So I don't question why he fired her. It's why he hired her and why he let her get all the way into his inner circle in the first place that has me furthering questioning him and his judgment.

soros said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Obama's trying to portray himself as the nice guy who doesn't do the whole "politics of personal destruction" thing. Powers didn't fit with that image, so she had to go. I don't think he could have stuck by her without seeming more, well -- Clintonian.

soros said...

Let's be clear whether you like Samantha power or not, it was highly irresponsible of her to go out and make statements to foreign media in the midst of highly fought primary especially after she ALREADY has seen the damage Goolsbee did in Ohio. I think letting Samantha Power to go with some dignity was the best he could do. I for one think , he should have done the same thing with Goolsbee- would have helped him in Ohio. Bottomline, he has to get his house inorder, if he plan to win the election. In otherwords, should not let the "policy experts" do their own freelancing. Let's be clear that no one runs for office and puts in 18 hours a day ,and get their and family's name raked through the mud without some selfish reason such as winning the contest, unless your name is Huckabee or Ron Paul. If you think that is not the case, then you are living in dreamland. My .02 $.

Maguro said...

I'd disagree that Power is brilliant...her thinking seems pretty naive and seems to place too much importance on the UN and EU. Not real impressed either with her plan for Iraq, which seems to include tacitly supporting ethnic/sectarian cleansing. It's a good thing she's gone, but why did he pick her in the first place?

What should also be troubling for those considering Obama is his apparent inability to keep key advisors "on message". Besides the Power book tour debacle, you have Goolsbee contradicting Obama on NAFTA and now intelligence expert Brennan disagreeing on telecom immunity. No matter which side you like on these issues, the lack of a unified message make Obama look like he can't manage his own team.

Meade said...

"It's why he hired her and why he let her get all the way into his inner circle in the first place that has me furthering questioning him and his judgment."

Exactly -- an example of poor judgment; and NO examples of courage. This is what a profile in Obama courage could have looked like:

"I made a mistake. I should not have appointed Ms. Power before thoroughly researching her policy positions and political philosophy.

Now, I wish to make an unequivocal statement: as president, I will support the state of Israel 100%. Period. Jew hate will not be tolerated in an Obama administration. Period.

As far as Hillary being a monster, well, yes, that is truly how I feel. Doesn't everyone? Sorry if that hurts Hillary's poor widdle feewings but it's true. Also, Ms. Power is right, we fucked up in Ohio. Ohioans really ARE obsessed with that NAFTA crap that, by the way, she and her husband are responsible for, and Hillary went to town on it, because she knew Ohio is the only place she could.

And, yes, she IS a monster – and that, ladies and gentlemen, is ON the record. She IS stooping to anything. It looks like desperation to me too but, hey, that's just me. What does it look like to you?

Samantha's right - you just look at her and think, 'Ergh'. But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive. Look, she's a bitch. A monstrous unattractive lying bitch. And if she ends up with the nomination, well, then screw it, I'm voting for McCain. At least that old bastard fights fair."

Middle Class Guy said...

Other than standing by her man, what courageous things has Hillary Clinton done? Where has she demonstrated any courage during a real crisis? She touts her experience, yet she can only point to some eighty speeches she gave overseas. What has this women done to merit her earning the presidency, as she has claimed?

Richard said...

Don't you see the pattern here? McCain gets blasted for being irritable with a reporter, and Obama gets squeamish about the use of the word "monster." I said before in a comment to your McCain post that the West has been neutered. Strong emotions or words are not permitted anymore here. We've become wimps. It's why we'll eventually be defeated as a culture and nation.

Cedarford said...

Samantha Power is just another Ivy League lawyer-activist that becomes famous and beloved for championing a "cause". Eventually, if you play your cards right, you become a wealthy celebrity where the wealthy PAY you to come in and hector them from a position of High Moral Authority on the obligations due out of activist conscious-raising. You even get your own NGO as a lawyer activist at the top of the pinnacle, and your own private jet to squire you to the UN, Davos, some refugee camp photo op for your adoring journalist fans - anywhere where your voice is needed and the publicity sure doesn't hurt book sales.
Samantha Power is a doyenne of a sort of a pack of higher-order Al Sharptons.
Power's big schtick is "Western failure to be willing to die to stop genocide and tyrants", while at the same time saying no one has to die to save others because "moral authority and speaking out stop budding genocides".

Basically, the Samantha Power logic goes like this:

1. Genocide is wrong, evil and must be ended.
2. But invading a country to end the reign of a brutal dictator involved in past genocide and possible future genocide - or a slaughter not of a genocidal nature is wrong.
Because war only hurts the children and makes matters worse.
3. The proper thing is to employ the template of postmodernist European "soft power" and demand that oppressive regimes submit to the ICC, human rights lawyers lists of compulsory remedial actions, and observe the supremacy of Europe & American hard Left based International Law.
4. When murdering thugs ignore you, have people of the highest moral authority deplore, or double deplore them even. Unless of course the murdering thugs are "freedom fighters" murdering to end oppression from evils like capitalism or Zionism.

When it comes to saving the world, being somewhat exotic and memorable (glorious red hair & use of a fake Irish brogue for someone who has lived in the US since she was 7) helps. It is required, however to be personally be charismatic, articulate, and depict yourself as selfless despite your millions and three homes gamed out of the "po' suffering 3rd Worlders" pity game.

Balfegor said...

Re: my characterisation of Power's statements above, it wasn't actually the Scotsman interview she made the Iraq statements in, it was a BBC program. My mistake. Links to the BBC video are in the Politico article.

garage mahal said...

Need a hug Meade? You sound a little frightened and angry. Does a 60-ish yr old woman haunt you in your past? You know, we can get through this. Together.

Meade said...

garage,
How'd you know? Come on over here ya big lug. And bring a snow shovel.

AJ Lynch said...

"Double deplore" that was a good one Cedarford.

I can almost picture the UN types frowning in faux concern just before hitting happy hour at an expensive Manhattan bar.

Mortimer Brezny said...

So what am I to think now that he let Power go?

Why would it change anything?

1. Iraq. Of course Obama will not abide by a bill that set a date for withdrawal in March 2008. The bill did not pass. It is now March of 2008.

2. Monster. As you convincingly argue, the Clinton campaign's outrage is absurd on its face.

3. Resignation. Prior to her resignation, how many people knew that Samantha Power -- who we all seem to agree should be a top-adviser in a future administration -- was Obama's closest adviser? Not many. We all know now. (Indeed, many are frothing at the mouth that such a brilliant woman was let go.)

But we all now can envision the caliber of advice a President Obama would receive that a President Clinton would not. It is the Samantha Powers and Austin Goolsbees and Susan Rices that we want advising our President. Not the Sidney Blumenthals and the Paul Begalas and the Richard Holbrookes.

This is not about Iraq. It is about the caliber of advice the President uses to exercise his judgment. Hillary Clinton called for the canning of Samantha Power; we certainly know Samantha Power, who called the embittered Clinton a "monster," will not serve in a Clinton administration. Do you want Samantha Power in an administration or not?

Vote for Clinton and Samantha Power returns to Harvard. Vote for Obama and Samantha Power improves our standing in the world. The choice is yours, superdelegates: petty catfighting or real change in foreign policy.

Roger said...

This democratic campaign is degenerating into nothingness. Hillary is disavowing herself of her stupid remarks about Mississippi when the record is clear: she said it. And the people that brokered ths Northern Ireland peace called her silly. Samantha Power, on the other hand, makes some larger points about genocide and even though she omits what the US actually does, she's pretty much on target.

As to Obama: if he's willing to throw anyone under the bus for doing something silly, then who in the world, other than yes men and women will want to work for him?

Both democratic candidates are feckless liars--and it will be interesting to see which feckless liar claims the nomination.

I don't like McCain--but he is head and shoulders above the garbage produced in the democratic party: what a bunch of lying clowns.

Yachira said...

"...the brilliant Samantha Power applied the word "monster" "

Ann, perhaps Obama didn't support Powers because, on top of her Hillary remark, she also wants to invade Israel?

Tim said...

Between Oh-Bah-Muh's inability to reconcile his stump speech with his advisors statements and Hillary!'s faulty memory, Mayor Daley-like tactics and Jeffrey Dahmer-like approval ratings, it's now apparent the Democratic Presidential Primary = Triple A Championship.

It should be exceedingly obvious to all but the most partisan of mouth-breathing, slack-jawed Leftists that McCain wipes the floor with either one.

It couldn't happen to a better crowd, at a better time.

Kansas City said...

I don't understand why so many people call Power "brilliant." She is a 36 year old former reporter. She was made to look silly by a serious BBC interviewer in the clip below. The fact that Obama considered her a senior advisor further suggests that Obama and his people are not ready/experienced enough for the job of president.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/7281805.stm

Roadkill said...

Ann, you said:

"Power's statement about how he [Obama] would handle Iraq reinforced what I've been assuming, and this assumption was central to my decision to vote for him in the Wisconsin primary."

So Obama's penchant for not meaning what he is saying on the campaign trail (e.g. Iraq, NAFTA) makes him more attractive to you as a potential President?

Or are you, Law Prof, more like us in that you just assume lawyers (like Obama) are lying when their lips are moving?

Balfegor said...

Vote for Clinton and Samantha Power returns to Harvard. Vote for Obama and Samantha Power improves our standing in the world.

Vote for Obama and . . . Samantha Power still returns to Harvard, actually. She just got kicked off the bus. Or resigned, if you want to go with the tatemae here.

I don't understand why so many people call Power "brilliant."

Well, Mortimer Brezhny does make a fair point in that she sounds like she's smarter than uber-hacks like Paul Begala or Sidney Blumenthal. Indeed, she had to leave the Obama campaign precisely because she was insufficiently hackish for him. Not sure she comes off quite so well with Holbrooke.

That aside, I don't think the standard for brilliance should be how well you do in an interview on TV. That's almost as bad as choosing a president based on how good he is at reading from a teleprompter.

Yachira said...

Kansas City says, I don't understand why so many people call Power "brilliant."

I'm not sure about the "so many" above, but it would be my guess that Ann and many of her colleagues in academia think Powers is 'brilliant' because, 1) Pulitzer Prize, and 2) teaches at Harvard. These two attributes are de facto proof, in academia, of brilliance. To me they suggest nothing more than intellectual and political lockstep with the Angry Left.

Balfegor said...

Also, re:

But we all now can envision the caliber of advice a President Obama would receive that a President Clinton would not. It is the Samantha Powers and Austin Goolsbees and Susan Rices that we want advising our President.

Perhaps. It would be nice if Obama sounded like he actually paid any attention to their advice. Otherwise it's just name-dropping. Advisors don't set policy, after all -- the President does.

joe said...

It appears that Ann, like many supporters of Obama, project upon him their hopes for what he will really be. The hope, change platitude/slogans invite this. He is a blank canvas for utopian fantasies.

garage mahal said...

It should be exceedingly obvious to all but the most partisan of mouth-breathing, slack-jawed Leftists that McCain wipes the floor with either one.

Indeed, the meak geriatric voice of less jobs and more war will bring out those voters in droves won't they. The same voters that are swamping the Republicans by double and triple margins, and in money raised. A decrepit old warmongering crook who's closest friends think is fucking nuts.

Sounds like a winner!

Daryl said...

Obama is promising that he will leave Iraq as soon as he's elected president.

He's promising that he won't change his mind between now and then, even if the facts change.

Samantha Power pointed out the obvious: that Barack Obama cannot suspend his judgment for the next 16 months. Even if he was capable of such a feat, we wouldn't want him to. If we're electing him for his judgment, why don't we want him to use his judgment between now and then?

New facts will emerge. Progress--or setbacks--will occur.

The problem with honesty (that his position might change) is that then he can't promise he will leave Iraq.

Honesty would mean that someone could ask "do you mean it's possible that we vote for you now, and you become president, and then you decide not to pull out from Iraq?" and Obama would have to answer that it is possible, if unlikely.

He wants to promise, now, that he will leave Iraq even if, 16 months from now, he thinks it's a bad idea to leave. Even if the troops and the generals, the Iraqi civilians, Iraqi police, Iraqi tribal leaders, and Iraqi legislators--even if they all want America to stay.

That's not a promise he can make in any intellectually coherent way. If Samantha Power was intelligent, and not a pompous, arrogant ass, she would have seen that, and avoided discussing the issue in depth or with clarity.

So which is it, Dems? Do you want a candidate who promises not to change his mind, even if, as president, s/he knows it would be best to stay? Or do you want a candidate who might decide to stay in Iraq?

I think I know what Althouse wants. She wants the latter. She wants to vote for Obama and let Obama decide to stay in Iraq, because then she thinks the country would rally around finishing the job there. We could all come together, and love one another, and sing kumbaya, and win the war. Nice fantasy, Althouse. But it's about as practical or believable as Sam Power's delusions.

joe said...

Gar. Mah. said:
"Sounds like a winner!"
Only in comparison to what the Democrats offer.

Revenant said...

It would be nice if Obama sounded like he actually paid any attention to their advice.

Well, he needs to fool the rubes long enough to get elected.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Vote for Obama and . . . Samantha Power still returns to Harvard, actually. She just got kicked off the bus.

She resigned from the campaign.

That does not mean she isn't still advising Obama or that she won't be in Obama's administration. It just means Hillary Clinton looks petty for harping on the comment.

It would be nice if Obama sounded like he actually paid any attention to their advice. Otherwise it's just name-dropping.

The implication is that Obama picks brilliant minds who give good advice, rather than sticking his finger to the wind and calculating for political gain. He exercises the judgment whether to employ their advice.

Mortimer Brezny does make a fair point in that she sounds like she's smarter than uber-hacks like Paul Begala or Sidney Blumenthal. Indeed, she had to leave the Obama campaign precisely because she was insufficiently hackish for him. Not sure she comes off quite so well with Holbrooke.

Richard Holbrooke advised Hillary Clinton to vote for war in Iraq. He is the ur-hack. I included him with Paul Begala ad Sidney Blumenthal for a reason. Just to recapitulate, Obama has consistently opposed the Iraq War and the use of torture, unlike Hillary Clinton and her hackish advisers, including Richard Holbrooke.

Obama is promising that he will leave Iraq as soon as he's elected president. He's promising that he won't change his mind between now and then, even if the facts change.

Obama never promised that. Even his bill setting a withdrawal date of March 2008 is more flexible than that. Apparently, you have not read the bill he drafted. I suspect you do not know Obama's actual position, either. Here is a start.

Kansas City said...

This shallowness of Power continues to be exposed. Below is a link to an interview where she explaines that "I was talking to myself" and then declares "we're democrats" and she would support Clinton. How is someone like this viewed as brilliant?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/06/samantha-power-resigns-ov_n_90339.html

Mortimer Brezny said...

This shallowness of Power continues to be exposed.

I take it you have not read her book.

Middle Class Guy said...

joe said...
He is a blank canvas for utopian fantasies.

And Hillary is an empty frame.


There really is no difference betwen Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as far as experience goes.

Obama lacks the will to be ruthless in the face of the Clinton attack machine. The Clintons lack ethics and morality. What a choice.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Obama lacks the will to be ruthless in the face of the Clinton attack machine.

The Clinton attack machine doesn't seem to be working.

Kansas City said...

mortimer, I have not read her book and as a former reporter she may write well, so I guess I should have limited my comment to the shallowness she has demonstrated in the recent interviews on BBC and now today. She also apparently advocated a massive military and financial intervention in Gaza and the Palestinian territory to impose a two state solution, which I think even she now has abandoned. Then there was another occasion where she said that she could not even explain what she meant in a prior comment. You should watch the two interviews (especially the BBC - where the interviewer is very good and far better than anyone we have in the U.S.) and then consider whether she is brilliant or just another "we're democrats" academician.

Balfegor said...

Daryl says:

Obama is promising that he will leave Iraq as soon as he's elected president. He's promising that he won't change his mind between now and then, even if the facts change.

Mortimer responds:

Obama never promised that. Even his bill setting a withdrawal date of March 2008 is more flexible than that.

But Obama's campaign manager says:

On a conference call with reporters earlier Friday Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said Obama has been "crystal clear with the American people that if and when he is elected president, we will be out of Iraq in - as he said, the time frame would be about 16 months at the most where you withdraw troops. There should be no confusion about that with absolute clarity."

HMMMMMM.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Ann's right. Obama looks bad here. But here is what he can do to turn a lemon into lemonade. He should call a press conference and say this:

"I have great respect for Samantha's intelligence and her foreign policy background and I regret her resignation from my campaign. This morning I have called Samantha and I have requested that she rejoin my campaign team. She has agreed to come back."

"To Hillary, I say this: Since you have a serious disagreement with Ms. Power, I challange you to publicly debate Samantha at Harvard on the subject foreign policy and the use of metaphors. Samantha has agreed to this. You can pick the time and date, but because of the public interest in this matter, I think this debate should be held within the next two or three weeks. Please advise me of your decision as soon as possible."

Mortimer Brezny said...

when he is elected president, we will be out of Iraq in - as he said, the time frame would be about 16 months at the most where you withdraw troops.

You do not read carefully. This does not say the 16 months starts to run the day after Obama is inaugurated.

Ahem.

Mortimer Brezny said...

He should call a press conference and say this:

Not really. He should win Wyoming and Mississippi and keep drawing off superdelegates. That's what he should do.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Daryl: Obama is promising that he will leave Iraq as soon as he's elected president.

Mortimer Brezny said...

mortimer, I have not read her book and as a former reporter she may write well

Her book is brilliant on the substance, writing style aside.

Kansas City said...

Why doesn't Obama's statement that he will have troops out within 16 months after he becomes president demonstrate he is not up to the job? Just as a matter of common sense, shouldn't he say that he has to assess the situation when he assumes office and has access to complete information? Even if he says his current assessment is that it could be accomplished within 16 months (God knows what that is based on or than a desire to secure the democratic nomination), he still should have the wisdom and honesty to say it is subject to his review upon taking office.

Hillary is just as bad saying that on "day one" she will call in the joint chiefs of staff and ask them to develope a withdrawal plan.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Just as a matter of common sense, shouldn't he say that he has to assess the situation when he assumes office and has access to complete information?

That is his position. It takes 16 months to withdraw responsibly once you start.

Cedarford said...

Kansas City said...
I don't understand why so many people call Power "brilliant." She is a 36 year old former reporter. She was made to look silly by a serious BBC interviewer in the clip below. The fact that Obama considered her a senior advisor further suggests that Obama and his people are not ready/experienced enough for the job of president.


History major at Yale, striking woman, athletic and intelligent. A "star" as an undergrad. Interned at Carneghie Endowment for International Peace. Selected and advised on her senior thesis by Prof Emeritus Gaddis Smith, legendary maritime and foreign relations expert. Who, like her, was also Editor of Yale News in his day.

Then became a war zone reporter covering diplomacy and carnage in several hotspots. Notably Bosnia. Became disgusted, she claims. that it was all written about but no one stopped the killing.

Left to pursue a degree in International Law at Harvard - (1996-98) sent with high recommendations from a number of powerful people. Specialized in International and Human Rights Law.

After HLS, assembled her various mentors, contacts and donor possibilities for a proposal for a new NGO based on the various failures since WWII to stop human rights abuses in war zones. She became the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at JFK School of Government at Harvard.(at 29)

Then did all sorts of other networking and writing since 2000, including lectures at Ruling Elite gatherings here and abroad. collecting a Pulitzer, and getting Obama to come to her looking for a senior policy advisor on recommendations of other notable Obamites.

Nah, I don't like do-gooder activists that much, but Power is no Lefty hack airhead journalist with a sub-100 IQ and an inability to engage in critical thinking.

She's the real deal. Perhaps like Obama, not as experienced as she should be, but a serious person.

****************
smGalbraith - After all, we didn't (shamefully) go into Europe to stop the Holocaust. We went in out of self interest and national security.

Why exactly is that shameful?

Are Jews so special that we owed them the sacrifice of American lives in a way that we didn't owe the Armenians, the Poles&Russians slaughtered in WWII, the Cambodians, East Timoreans? The genocide by "class" that the Communists, with Jews as Key, eager participants did? That butchered more people than Hitler?

Why exactly is it "shameful" that we didn't seek to prioritize "saving Jews" over any other war objective like winning the war? Or fighting as we did to win as fast and efficiently as possible for saving other humans, not the least Americans?

Kansas City said...

cedarford, agreed she is no "lefy hack airhead," but as you point out, she is hardly experienced enough to be a major advisor to a president. Graduated from law school in 1998? Been in a liberal academic setting ever since? "Striking" and "athletic" are nice, but not a reason to put her in a significant national security position. I urge you to review those videos I cited earlier and see if you think that on those she comes across as anything other than shallow.

Middle Class Guy said...

Obama should have paraphrased Adlai Stevenson:

We'll stop telling the truth about Hillary Clinton if she stops telling lies about us.

It would have got a big laugh and made Hillary sputter with so much rage, she would have flipped out.

Finn Kristiansen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

"Striking" and "athletic" are nice, but not a reason to put her in a significant national security position.

Depends what you mean by national security. She can secure my nation anytime. I have no problem putting her in a significant position.

Finn Kristiansen said...

(Re-posted for typo)

I don't think Obama wanted to spend the month between Missippippi and Pennsylvania in a pissing contest with Hillary over Samantha Power.

Power put herself in a bad position and should have known better. She had the previous Nafta gaffe as an example of what she should NOT be replicating.

To the extent that Obama avoids getting entangled in meaningless debates, he is showing strength.

Obviously if Ann were Jesus hanging on the cross, and goaded by Satan to "save yourself", she would have popped down, kicked his ass, immediately lost all power over evil, and plunged the world into eternal damnation and Satan's rule.

Not that Hillary will do that of course...plunge us into eternal damnation. But it's the same principal. Hillary wanted him to take the bait, and spend valuable energy defending Power (and looking like a hypocrite in the process).

Then too, it would have inoculated Clinton staff from any future punishment for grossly negative attacks.

Obama has but two tasks. Win delegates, and not have a scandal. If he sticks to those tasks, he wins.

It does no good for him to stand up and pontificate about Powers and her brilliance, if he loses the nomination.

Also, for those who don't like Obama, there is a tendency to assume that those who do like him are "drinking the Kool Aid" or like him for some "coolness factor" and that it's obvious Obama is an "empty suit".

Have some respect for fellows and don't assume they are as stupid as you like to imagine they are.

All three candidates have quite detailed legislative records, plus relatively detailed policy positions and goals that one can download or read. You should probably assume that those people who do like Obama (or Hillary, or McCain for that matter), have probably familiarized themselves with those positions that have the most meaning to them.

And also, as astute voters, we also realize that for those running as president, many of those things they would like to do just can't get done. But in backing a candidate, you begin with the guy who is pointing his mouth (and goals) in the direction you want.

Yachira said...

This post at Powerline pretty much eviscerates the Powers-as-brilliant silliness.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/03/019988.php

Gary Rosen said...

"Basically, the Samantha Power logic goes like this:

4. When murdering thugs ignore you, have people of the highest moral authority deplore, or double deplore them even. Unless of course the murdering thugs are "freedom fighters" murdering to end oppression from evils like capitalism or Zionism."

In other words, Powers logic is exactly the same as C-fudd "logic" - i. e. murdering Jews is good, it takes "heart and courage", right, C-fudd? You can't deny it, you wrote it, you can only weasel out of it.

Balfegor said...

Re: Mortimer:

You do not read carefully. This does not say the 16 months starts to run the day after Obama is inaugurated.

Right back at you:

In response to Clinton's remarks, Plouffe said, "Sen. Obama has said that one of his first, you know, sort of moments upon entering the Oval Office would be to sit down with his Joint Chiefs of Staff and make it very clear that a withdrawal is going to begin, and it needs to be done rapidly," he said.

Okay, maybe "first moments" isn't "day one," but close enough. And I suppose Obama could weasel out of this one by arguing that the clock doesn't begin when he orders his Chiefs of Staff that a withdrawal is going to begin rapidly, only when it actually does begin, but we're really grasping at straws here.

section9 said...

The poor damn liberals.

McCain is the only one out there, like Goldwater in 1964, who is telling the truth about the war.

Barack is peddling Withdrawl Candy Corn to the Peace Movement and they're buying his con game hook line and sinker. Power was fired because she let the cat out of the bag and said that "events, dear boy, events" might cause the Young Jesus to alter his withdrawl schedule.

Can't have that. Can't let the Lefties realize they're being gulled.

McCain is the only one of the three who is telling the truth. Period. The others are peddling bullshit.
Period. The libs simply don't want to believe that they are being lied to by their Messiah.

Sorry, friends, but when you join the Torchlight Parade, that's what happens.

rcocean said...

Once again, the same pattern. A
"Cederford" post followed by a "Gary Rosen", post calling him a Nazi and/or wanting to destroy Israel.

Its so obvious and Over-the-top. "Gary Rosen" is in fact a "Cederford" sock puppet.

Daryl said...

Arguing about how soon Obama would effect the pullout only ignores the real issue: whether he would reassess the situation once he takes office, and the powers of the presidency are at his disposal. Whether he would reassess the issue given new progress--and setbacks--in the months between now and then.

If your argument is something like this: "Daryl's wrong because Obama actually won't start pulling out until four months into his presidency," that's not a very compelling argument. You mean to say that President Obama is going to wait four months, during which time he won't reassess the situation?

The longer you think Obama is going to wait before he starts to pull troops out, the less defensible it is for him to refuse to reassess the situation. He's going to rely on old plans and refuse to listen to new facts, refuse to listen to his generals, and refuse to listen to Iraqi lawmakers working to create political progress?

Professor Samantha Power might be a loon, but she was telling the undeniable truth when she said the Messiah would reconsider, and draw up new plans, once he took office. Telling the truth on the campaign trail, at least when you work for Barack Obama, is the fastest way to get thrown off of a campaign.

Mortimer Brezny said...

whether he would reassess the situation once he takes office, and the powers of the presidency are at his disposal.

That's the point of meeting with JCS.

one of his first, you know, sort of moments upon entering the Oval Office would be to sit down with his Joint Chiefs of Staff and make it very clear that a withdrawal is going to begin, and it needs to be done rapidly

Obama has said the first thing he'd do the day after he was inaugurated is to meet with JCS about withdrawing the troops. He has never said there would be an ironclad order to start removing troops at that meeting, just that it would be an actual priority communicated (as opposed to Bush's "stay the course no matter what") and when the removal began it would take about 16 months (i.e., no foot-dragging). You won't find anything other than that, because he's consistently said it. It's all the quote above says.

Mortimer Brezny said...

You mean to say that President Obama is going to wait four months, during which time he won't reassess the situation?

No. I mean President Obama will reassess the situation per his sit down with JCS. If the truth does not compel you, I cannot help.

Tim said...

"Indeed, the meak geriatric voice of less jobs and more war will bring out those voters in droves won't they. The same voters that are swamping the Republicans by double and triple margins, and in money raised. A decrepit old warmongering crook who's closest friends think is fucking nuts."

The polls suggest you are quite wrong.

Cedarford said...

rcocean - No sock puppet.

Rosen is real. Perhaps another devotee to "The 5,000 Year-old Jewish Way of Losing Friends and Ill-nfluencing Peoples".

Tim said...

In response to Clinton's remarks, Plouffe said, "Sen. Obama has said that one of his first, you know, sort of moments upon entering the Oval Office would be to sit down with his Joint Chiefs of Staff and make it very clear that a withdrawal is going to begin, and it needs to be done rapidly," he said.

Muqtada al-Sadr and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are desperate for Oh-Bah-Muh's bright line surrender date so they know when to make their move, and how to best prepare for it; thus guaranteeing the third Iraq war, but this time conflated with Iran, armed with nuclear weapons the ever-so-diligent CIA tells us they aren't developing.

And with a military dispirited by its battlefield victory surrendered by Washington appeasers, bereft of any Oh-Bah-Muh voters.

Think oil is expensive now? Once the Iranians corner the Iraqi oil, any enviro-weenie standing between ANWR and a drilling rig is gonna get flattened.

Excellent strategic thinkers in the Oh-Bah-Muh camp. Just excellent.

Kirk Parker said...

Morty,

No, no, you haven't read the comments to date if you think we're agreed about Power.

There's a fairly large contingent here that considers Power just another tranzi/NGO type, and whose brilliant achievements consist mostly of echoing that particular party's line.

Mortimer Brezny said...

There's a fairly large contingent here that considers Power just another tranzi/NGO type

Tranzi? That woman is all woman and has always been a woman. You ought to be ashamed.

former law student said...

This post at Powerline pretty much eviscerates the Powers-as-brilliant silliness.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives2/2008/03/019988.php


No, it doesn't. What the post does show is that Powers is open and candid as well as passionate, and she doesn't take herself very seriously. One can be brilliant without having gravitas, as another can play her cards close to her vest without having any idea which to lay down first. I see her as another candidate for the Straight Talk Express.

Daryl said...

No. I mean President Obama will reassess the situation per his sit down with JCS. If the truth does not compel you, I cannot help.

So Senator Obama isn't really promising to bring the troops home, he's actually promising to hold a meeting on the subject?

No. I don't buy it. None of his supporters have signs that say "TALK ABOUT BRINGING THE TROOPS HOME" or "DISCUSS WITHDRAWAL"

Senator Obama's campaign is promising that, once he is inaugurated, he will immediately set in motion troop withdrawals, regardless of whether he still thinks, ten months from now, that's a good idea.

His campaign is outright promising that he won't reassess the situation in the next ten months. Prof. Dr. Sam Power said that Obama would reassess the situation as President. In response, the Obama camp made a statement (the very statement you cite) in order to contradict that.

The Obama camp certainly felt that their statement contradicted Prof. Dr. Sam Power's statement. But you see the two as congruent? That doesn't make much sense to me.

Daryl said...

Former Law Student wrote: What the post does show is that Powers is open and candid as well as passionate, and she doesn't take herself very seriously.

Nobody would say the things she's said unless they were taking themselves way too seriously.

Hey I've got a great idea! Let's create a super-powerful world government, and use it to invade Israel! Wheeee!!!

I'm a Harvard Prof. I'm soooo smart. I'm sooo smart that I can talk really fast to the press without ever saying anything that I might regret.

I'm sooooo smart that I can jump right in, headfirst, into an unwinnable issue (i.e., whether Obama will draft a new plan, as president, before withdrawing from Iraq) and speak with clarity and finality on the subject. What could possibly go wrong? I'm tooo smart to make a mistake!

I'm also sooo pretty that nobody ever told me to STFU before. I'm not used to being responsible for my own words and ideas. It's soooo not fair!!!!

Gary Rosen said...

"Its so obvious and Over-the-top. "Gary Rosen" is in fact a "Cederford" sock puppet."

Makes *absolutely* no sense, but whatever floats your boat.

"Rosen is real. Perhaps another devotee to "The 5,000 Year-old Jewish Way of Losing Friends and Ill-nfluencing Peoples"."

"Ill-nfluencing"?? Better take that English as a second language course, Fudd. But maybe I can learn from you, you know the way you have won such love and respect on Belmont Club.

Mortimer Brezny said...

So Senator Obama isn't really promising to bring the troops home, he's actually promising to hold a meeting on the subject? His campaign is outright promising that he won't reassess the situation in the next ten months.

You just aren't very smart, I'm afraid. Just because you make a commitment doesn't mean you exercise your duty to fulfill that commitment recklessly and inflexibly, and without consulting with the proper advisers or heeding their advice.

john marzan said...

if i were barack, i'd forgive samantha power for her silly "monster" remark and invite her back into the campaign.

and make a promise to barack supporters that it will never happen again.

and oh yeah, screw hillary!

Tim said...

"Tranzi?"

It doesn't mean what you think it means. Your illiteracy is clouding your judgment. Once you figure it out, you'll be embarrassed for not knowing what you might also be.

As for me, I'm most definitely not, and virtually all Republicans aren't either, and we definitely think "there is something wrong with that..."

Tim said...

"You just aren't very smart, I'm afraid. Just because you make a commitment doesn't mean you exercise your duty to fulfill that commitment recklessly and inflexibly, and without consulting with the proper advisers or heeding their advice."

You must not be very smart either, if you really believe Oh-Bah-Muh's congregation will accept any delay in his "commitment" to surrender based upon what the JCS says about the facts on the ground.

I'd love to hear the papering over of the mass cognitive dissonance in the Church of Oh-Bah-Muh after that happened. Invariably it wouldn't be complete, and the cult would schism. Will will.i.am do a new video then? And for whom?

Too bad for me it'll never happen, as President-elect John McCain will be taking the oath on 20 Jan 09 at 1200 hrs.

On balance, its a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Finn Kristiansen said...


Tim said,

"You must not be very smart either, if you really believe Oh-Bah-Muh's congregation will accept any delay in his "commitment" to surrender based upon what the JCS says about the facts on the ground.


Ti-um, what's with the alternate spellings of Obama? It's very creative. Does it signify something? Takes me back to those kindergarten days when we would try to spell words every which way, due to ignorance. What's YOUR rationale? It's almost witty, but not.

Tim said...

"Ti-um, what's with the alternate spellings of Obama? It's very creative. Does it signify something?"

Thanks, but I don't deserve the credit. These cultists do:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ghSJsEVf0pU

Fen said...

Just because you make a commitment doesn't mean you exercise your duty to fulfill that commitment recklessly and inflexibly, and without consulting with the proper advisers or heeding their advice.

Well, I can already tell you how JCS will advise Obama. I think he can too. Question is, will he tell you, or will he keep pretending he advocates something else [withdrawal].