You have to think that the Obama campaign is eagerly awaiting the end of Samantha Power’s book tour. Power, one of Obama’s top foreign policy adviser, is making the rounds in Europe to promote her new book about Sergio Vieira de Mello, the United Nations official killed a few years ago In Iraq. The results are not necessarily what Obama might have hoped for.
Take her interview in England with the New Statesman. As Ed Lasky reports, Power told the interviewer that President Obama would engage with President Ahmadinejad, North Korea, and Syria (the campaign, through its Jewish outreach point man, Rep. Wexler, had seemed to back away from the idea of negotiating directly with Ahmadinejad, but that was to an Israeli and Jewish audience). Power was then asked whether “there is anyone [Obama] wouldn’t talk to.” She replied that there was no one among “elected heads of state” and that “he won’t talk to Hamas, but he would talk to Abbas.”
The interviewer reminded Power that Hamas was a democratically-elected government and that Abbas’ Fatah party lost the last popular vote. At that point, Power embarked on a rambling discourse about America’s prior history of negotiating with dictators who have displaced democratically elected governments. But, of course, Hamas has not been displaced, and Power provided no principled explanation for why, under Obama’s theory that we should negotiate with the bad guys to avoid the perception of being arrogant, he would not negotiate with Hamas. In fact, Power’s scrambling was so transparent that her sympathetic interviewer concluded she did not believe what she was saying. “Dissembling does not come easy to her at all,” was his conclusion.
The interviewer then turned to the difficulties Power has encountered with bloggers who have “fiercely attacked” her “for questioning the US’s axiomatic support for Israel on security matters.” (Actually, most of the criticism has pertained to her axiomatic support of a variety of slanders against Israel). Power complains that “so much of it is about: ‘Is [Obama] going to be good for the Jews?'”
In reality, of course, the concern that results from Power’s status as key adviser is not whether Obama will be “good for the Jews,” but whether he’ll be a steadfast supporter of Israel, or instead will reverse the course of American policy to Israel’s detriment. Tellingly, it is Power, not her critics, who seems to see this as a dispute about Jews.
Too bad for Obama that Rep. Wexler isn’t the one doing a book tour.
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