Friday, March 7, 2008

Obama advisor Power resigns – Iraq flub actually worse than ‘monster’ comment

Enough additional stuff has “moved” on the Samantha Power case since I originally posted this last night that the story line needed an update in a separate post.

Samantha Power, the recently-resigned former top foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama, has had another media flub, and a more serious one, than calling Hillary Clinton a “monster.”

In attempting to give Obama “wiggle room” on his Iraq policy, she made him look less than committed to a full withdrawal and definitely not committed to a certain pace of withdrawal:

Power downplayed Obama’s commitment to quick withdrawal from Iraq on Hard Talk, a program that often exceeds any of the U.S. talk shows in the rigor of its grillings. She was challenged on Obama's Iraq plan, as it appears on his website, which says that Obama “will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.”

“What he’s actually said, after meting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you — at best case scenario — will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That’s what they’re telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president,” Power says.

In other words, a bit of a NAFTA-esque moment for Obama on Iraq. So, just what does he believe? And, given that his anti-Iraq stance from before his 2004 Senate election is a major part of his presidential campaign image, how much will this hurt him?

And, how hard will the Clinton campaign push him on this?

(Frankly, if I were Obama, I would have called for her resignation on this issue. A personal attack gaffe is one thing, but undercutting your boss on a campaign keystone is another kettle of fish entirely.)

An update on Power’s resignation over calling Hillary Clinton a name is below the fold.

Power got her “notoriety,” which led to her resignation, when she tried an ex post facto comment retraction about calling Hillary Clinton a “monster.”

Power has now resigned over the comment.

How does a former experienced professional journalist shoot herself in the foot like this? (And no, I don’t think the Scotsman sandbagged her or something. Per Wikipedia: From 1993 to 1996, she worked as a journalist, covering the Yugoslavian wars for U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The New Republic. Boy, Clinton must really be inside Obama staff’s heads.

As I noted in comments to my original post, this issue alone stands as a “competency” issue. When linked with her comments on Iraq, it’s a definite competency question, I think.

Futher tidbit: Here’s Josh Marshall’s take on the Power resignation and how it shows Clinton is inside Obama’s head right now:
Obama folks can either withdraw to a world where the “new politics” reigns or focus on the fact that here in the real world there are two “old politics” practitioners standing between him and the presidency and he needs to decide how he's going to deal with that fact..

I agree; what else is there to say?

As for this blog taking a position one way or the other, this isn’t doing that. Rather, we should want competency from all candidates of all political parties. Take Republicans in general and Bushes in specific. While the old man was not a genius, he did recognize government spending was a problem and did raise takes to cut the deficit. Reagan did that as well. Hell, Nixon, for all his criminality, was quite competent. And, as a likely third-party voter, I don’t have a dog in the hunt for either Obama or Clinton, anyway. Rather, I want the most competent candidate (Clinton 3 a.m. phone call ads aside) to be nominated, as part of that candidate being the best overall.