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March 7, 2008

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Samantha Power's Resignation

Such a bummer. I cringed when I read the remark last night. Now one of my favorite figures in any candidate’s campaign is out. I don’t know how these things work at all, but I really hope she’ll still be his unofficial foreign policy adviser.

Also: Why is it I love Samantha Power so much? First, there was her book, an exhaustive and exhausting account of the unchanging pattern of genocide, and why, despite our ability to recognize that pattern, we never stop it before it’s too late. Then, there was hearing her speak about the book at the Nieman Narrative conference a few years back. Although she was young (34?) and vibrant, she had this weariness about her. Maybe she was just exhausted for reasons completely unrelated to the subject matter, but you couldn’t help thinking, “God, the things this poor woman is cursed with knowing.” To speak at length for years with the survivors of genocides all over the world, to see it happening again and be utterly powerless to stop it — how do you have that kind of experience and not despair?

I was as excited as Robin about the prospect of Power in a major foreign policy position (which I really hope might still come to pass). When secretaries of state commonly can’t bring themselves to utter the word “genocide,” how amazing would it be to have a cabinet-level official with not only the experience to recognize the pattern of genocide, but also the moral will to call it by its name?

Of course, all these pretty things I’m saying about her shouldn’t erase the fact that calling Hillary Clinton a monster was not only boneheaded, but really lowers the threshold given some of the actual, human-slaughtering monsters Power has known. But it really sucks when a mistake redounds to such an ill and public effect.

Update: Marc Ambinder cites anonymous sources from the Obama campaign who say Power was not asked to leave, in case you were wondering.

Posted March 7, 2008 at 11:48 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted, Snarkpolitik


I heard Sam speak at TED this year: powerful, intelligent, nuanced. I love the idea of our foreign policy being shaped by people of her quality.

Yes, it was a stupid quote. But in my experience, stupid missteps are (thankfully) not usually capital offenses.

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