In 2003, Samantha Power wrote in the New Republic:
We need: a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States. . . Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. When Willie Brandt went down on one knee in the Warsaw ghetto, his gesture was gratifying to World War II survivors, but it was also ennobling and cathartic for Germany. . . .
Accordingly, when Power testified before the Senate this week in furtherance of her nomination as ambassador to the U.N., Marco Rubio wanted to know which crimes the nominee was referring to as having allegedly been committed or sponsored by the U.S.. Fox News reports their exchange as follows:
“‘I would categorize the Rwanda situation as a crime,’ the words you used, ‘permitted by the United States.’” Rubio began, quoting Power. “Which ones did the U.S. commit or sponsor that you were referring to?”
“Again sir, I think this is the greatest country on Earth,” Power responded. “We have nothing to apologize for.”
Rubio wasn’t placated with the nebulous reply, pressing her to explain further, saying, “So, you don’t have any in mind now…”
“I will not apologize for America. I will stand very proudly, if confirmed, behind the U.S. placard,” said Power.
Just when it appears the exchange may be over … think again. Rubio trudges onward. “I understand,” he says, “but do you think the U.S. has sponsored crimes…?”
“I believe the U.S. is the greatest country on earth,” Power reiterates.
We have seen many a confirmation conversion. Recently, for example, Chuck Hagel underwent one on Israel, a subject about which Power has also been required to “convert.” He also had to back away from the notion that the U.S. is a “bully.”
I don’t believe, however, that a nominee has ever needed to switch from the view that the United States needs to apologize for crimes to the view that she is proud of the United States and will not apologize for it.
Customarily, the President of the United States has not nominated purveyors of vicious slanders of America for any office, never mind the job of representing America before the leading world body. Doing so is another instance of the change we’ve been waiting for, and dreading.