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The return of soft Power

uring the campaign Samantha Power served as one of Barack Obama’s most trusted foreign policy advisers, until she let slip in an interview abroad that Hiilary Clinton is a “monster.” The interview occurred during the trip Paul Mirengoff dubbed the book tour from hell. Power was peddling Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World (formerly subtitled Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World).

Power’s imprudent remark about Clinton led to Obama’s throwing her under the bus. I doubt that Obama severed his ties to her and never doubted she’d be back. Today the AP reports that Power will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House. Power is to be named senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council.

Toward the end of her book tour, Power turned up for an interview on BBC’s HARDtalk with Stephen Sackur. Paul drew on this interview for a well-deserved parting shot at Power before Obama threw her under the bus. Martin Kramer declared that Sackur had “pummeled” Power, and Sackur was indeed a relentless interviewer. Video of the interview is posted here.

Not having heard Power before, I was most struck by what a fast talker and slippery customer she is. She is at the same time self-righteous, high-minded, and unserious — in my view, a pompous phony. (It should be noted that Max Boot, who I believe knows Power well, wrote to take issue with me somewhat vehemently when I described Power as such this past March.) The Weekly Standard’s Scrapbook commented that “Power’s very bad book tour told us as much about Obama as it did about her.”

If she is, as she declared during her book tour, lacking in “conventional political ambition” (according to Power, unlike Condoleezza Rice), she is nevertheless a creature of some other conventional ambition. She is certainly willing to do anything to sell a book.

John Hinderaker found Power’s “childishly incoherent thinking” to provide a valuable window into Obma’s mind. In the BBC interview, John noted, there was an exchange that was too little reported amid Power’s other gaffes. It came when the BBC reporter asked Power whether she thought Iraq had been lost.

This was sort of a trick question, since she clearly says so in the book she was promoting. So the question quickly evolved into whether Obama agrees with her that the Iraq war is lost. In trying to wriggle out of the question, Power volunteered that the concept of “winning” or “losing” in foreign policy is obsolete in the “21st century:”

JOHN adds: It would be fun to be a fly on the wall for meetings attended by Power and the “monster” who is now Secretary of State. Is this what Obama meant by a “team of rivals”?

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