Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Samantha Power – Back in Power: Friday Night Open Thread

For the US, for Obama’s administration, I think this is some great news. According to TPM, Samantha Power is going to be working at a high level in the NSC.

Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned notoriety for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster” while working to elect Barack Obama president, will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House, The Associated Press has learned.

Officials familiar with the decision say Obama has tapped Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a job that will require close contact and potential travel with Clinton, who is now secretary of state. NSC staffers often accompany the secretary of state on foreign trips.

Full disclosure. I’ve known Sam for several years, and since it happened while she was on a book tour of the UK, I also know the real circumstances of ‘Monstergate’

A brilliant scholar, a wonderful writer, but above all a passionate and dedicated advocate for US leadership in world affairs, Sam (Irish by birth) is another example – like Obama himself – of how America can not only educate some of the best minds in the world, but also put their ideas into action.

A full list of Samantha’s resume can be found elsewhere: she’s the Anna Lindh Professor at Harvard, but her thoughts about human rights, diplomacy and international conflict were not formed in the ivory towers of academia, but from her time as a journalist in Bosnia, where she saw first hand how conflict can spiral out of control, and genocide can loom

She turned her experience there into the wider formulations of A Problem from Hell, the 2003 Pullitzer Prize winning book which explored the framework of international law since the Armenian Genocide, and informs any discussion of the topic ever since.

It doesn’t stop there. She has been at the forefront of the Darfur campaign, and as well as teaching (and working on Obama’s campaign) written the magnus opus about the UN and it’s role, for good and ill, in international affairs – Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World

It was while publicising this book which, long set up in advance, coincided with the most intense part of the Primary season, that exhausted, and cornered by a journalist immediately after finishing a phone call, that she uttered her famous words about Hillary.

In the US ‘off the record can be retroactive’. In the UK, with its rabid tabloid journalist, not so much. As soon as she realised what she had said, she offered her resignation

But those dark days are over, and the fences are mended with Hillary – after all everyone can ‘mispeak’. Samantha’s appointment to the NSC means that intranecine battles have been forgotten for the greater good of an effective administration.

For me the first full week of an Obama administration has been inspiring: how’s it been for you?


  1. for quite awhile. This is not unexpected to me. I didn’t think what happened during the primary would be a big issue between her and Hillary. They are both too big to let something like that get in the way of doing what is right for the country and the world. This is a great addition to O’s foreign affairs team.

  2. fogiv

    She’s brilliant.  I never doubted that Obama would put her to work – and quickly.  All the “Monster” stuff is a non-issue; just a bit of Primary Kabuki.

  3. sricki

    and am glad for it. She will be a valuable asset. “Monster-gate” was unfortunate, but frankly, near everyone said things during the primaries that they probably wish they hadn’t. I was irritated at what she said for about an hour, then I just shrugged. I was familiar with her work, and it seemed a waste to hold her comment against her when she’s been such an important and influential voice. Glad to have her back.

    As for what’s going on tonight — here it is near 9 PM and we’ve still not cooked dinner. I’m thinking fish and grilled veggies. I am craving zucchini like an addict.

    And yes, this week has been inspiring. There was no delay in Obama’s decision making. He has made me very proud.

    And he was ready on day one.

  4. I like her a lot.  Like most of these folks, my previous knowledge of her was nil, but when she – um – gained her notoriety during the election I read up on her extensively.  She strikes me as an overwhelmingly competent person.

  5. powers has certainly always seemed super-smart and strikes me as having a passionate commitment to using political and military tools as effectively as possible can to prevent genocide and ethnic/racial mass murder.  and the world needs people like that.

    but she is also seems more than a bit naive when it comes to israel and the palestinians and over-estimates american power and the possibility of an over-arching solution with US military presence.  i don’t quite think powers grasps

    the poetry of israeli nationalism which is not unlike the irish version.  but there is a poetry to palestinian nationalism too, one should say, and she gets that it has failed to connect it to real politics.

    as to the ‘monster’ thing – meh – really could have done without that remark – but i guess now that i am morphing into an obamabot ill let this one pass 😉

  6. creamer

     Obama has reached out to his opponents and rivals in away that makes it impossible for others in his administration to hold grudges.

    I think its been a good week. The republicans are displaying the same skill and engagement that made thme such a great pary for the last 20-30 years.

Comments are closed.