Hillary Clinton a ‘Monster’ Says Obama Advisor (UPDATED)

Samantha Power says Hillary Clinton a Samantha Power says Hillary Clinton is a monster who’ll stoop to anything to win the nomination.

HILLARY Clinton has been branded a “monster” by one of Barack Obama’s top advisers, as the gloves come off in the race to win the Democrat nomination. In an unguarded moment during an interview with The Scotsman in London, Samantha Power, Mr Obama’s key foreign policy aide, let slip the camp’s true feelings about the former first lady.


“We f***** up in Ohio,” she admitted. “In Ohio, they are obsessed and Hillary is going to town on it, because she knows Ohio’s the only place they can win. She is a monster, too — that is off the record — she is stooping to anything,” Ms Power said, hastily trying to withdraw her remark.


“You just look at her and think, ‘Ergh’. But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.”

Both Power and Obama have already started trying to douse the fire:

In a statement released by Obama’s campaign, Power said: These comments do not reflect my feelings about Sen. Clinton, whose leadership and public service I have long admired.” Power said she deeply regretted her remarks. “It is wrong for anyone to pursue this campaign in such negative and personal terms,” she said. “I apologize to Senator Clinton and to Senator Obama, who has made very clear that these kinds of expressions should have no place in American politics.”

Obama’s campaign also issued a statement from Bill Burton’s the campaign’s spokesman, who said: “Sen. Obama decries such characterizations which have no place in this campaign.”

I’m always dubious about these denials; of course the comments reflected Power’s feelings about Clinton. Whether they reflect her considered judgment is another matter.

These gaffes happen over a long campaign and, certainly, Obama can’t be held responsible for every frustrated remark even close advisers make to the press. Nor should he be expected to fire everyone who says something regrettable.

That said, it further exposes the vulnerability Charles Krauthammer points to in his latest column. Assessing the impact of the infamous “3 a.m. ad,” he writes,

Ostensibly the ad was about experience. It wasn’t. It was about familiarity. After all, as Obama pointed out, what exactly is the experience that prepares Hillary to answer the red phone at 3 a.m.?

She was raising a deeper question: Do you really know who this guy is? After a whirlwind courtship with this elegant man who rode into town just yesterday, are you really prepared to entrust him with your children, the major props in the ad?

After months of fruitlessly shadowboxing an ethereal opponent made up of equal parts hope, rhetoric and enthusiasm, Clinton had finally made contact with the enemy. The doubts she raised created just enough buyer’s remorse to convince Democrats on Tuesday to not yet close the sale on the mysterious stranger.

The only way either Clinton or John McCain can defeat an opponent as dazzlingly new and fresh as Obama is to ask: Do you really know this guy?

Obama comes across as smart and decent and serious. But recent gaffes by his close advisers highlight the fact that we really don’t know him very well.

UPDATE: I was listening to Tony Kornheiser’s local talk show on the drive in this morning and Howard Fineman said these types of things are to be expected in a “movement campaign” such as Obama’s. Basically, he’s surrounding himself with bright, energetic people who are political neophytes who haven’t mastered the art of shutting up.

That’s refreshing in many ways but obviously comes with its own set up problems.

UPDATE: Power has resigned from the campaign. That’s a shame, in that she’s a superstar on the foreign policy circuit and can presumably be groomed to either stick to her subject or be more diplomatic in her discussions with the press, but not totally shocking.

Dave Schuler comments on the story at his own digs and goes Krauthammer one further.

I do think that the loose lips of Obama’s advisors, first economic advisor Austan Goolsbee and now foreign policy advisor Ms. Power, suggest an immaturity in judgment that should give us pause. They may know everything there is to know about economics and foreign policy. Do they have the maturity and judgment to render sound advice?

That’s the right question to be asking.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle writes,

I do think, though, that Obama’s campaign is suffering for something that it should be more celebrated for: getting academics for advisors instead of professional government appointees. Academics are used to speaking their minds; people like Gene Sperling know when to shut up. Clinton’s team are better at dealing with the political side of policy, and at some level that matters. But it seems more important to have good policies.

Speaking as a former academic and current public intellectual, that’s my gut instinct too. But commenter Dick Eagleson offers a salient rebuttal:

Say what you will about “professional government appointees,” but they at least understand that not only policy, but statements about policy – even hypotheticals – have real-world consequences. They may be ass-covering weasels, but they also know their asses are unarmored. Tenured academics, coming from an environment in which even quite outrageous behavior, never mind mere loose talk, carries with it no adverse consequences are almost never temperamentally or experientially suited to give useful advice about the real world to people who have to operate in it.

I’m afraid that’s probably right. The bottom line is that utterances by presidential appointees are generally taken as reflecting the view of the president. Right now, when one of Obama’s advisers says something stupid, it’s just the other campaigns and pundits that pounce on it. If he’s elected president, the governments of Iran, Russia, China, and other powerful countries with whom we have complicated relations will be listening, too.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    Certainly seems to be a pattern. Senior aide calls Hillary a monster then tries to walk it back. Aide on national TV says Obama is not ready for the 3AM call. Supporter can’t list any accomplishment of Obama other than Obama is inspiring. Adviser muffs back channel to Canada either leaving a misleading impression or saying Obama is lying in public.

    This doesn’t reflect well on Obama’s executive ability to bring together the right set of people.

  2. C.Wagener says:

    “Aaarck Aaarck” replied Clinton as the glistening entrails of the baby panda still clung to her saber-like teeth.

  3. rodney dill says:

    …says Hillary Clinton is a monster who’ll stoop to anything to win the nomination.

    So what did she say that was wrong or incorrect?

    (sound of crickets chirping)


  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I agree that Sen. Clinton, like most politicians, completely conflates her own good with that of the party and the country. I completely reject that she’s a “monster”. I think that asserting so is scurrilous, demeaning, and, frankly, immature. Is it possible to have mature and reasonable judgment on foreign policy without it in an interview with a journalist?

    A campaign isn’t just the candidate it’s also the people the candidate is likely to bring along with him or her and at this point my advice is “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night”.

  5. markm says:

    Not to defend Hillary in any way, shape or form…but that gal aughta look in a mirror if she hasn’t broke it already. Gadzooks woman, wax them eyebrows or somethin’.

  6. Christopher says:

    Samantha Power talks about the deceit of Clinton. What about her own candidate, Obama?

    Obama is a hypocrite, talking about helping the poor while he himself lives in a $2 million mansion (if he lived in a more modest house I wonder how many people he himself could help to shelter?) purchased with help from a crook on trial now for corruption. How he personally earned over $2 million from his book sales telling people about the value of “hope” yet living lavishly on those earnings. How his wife earns over $300,000(!) a year as a hospital administrator, becoming instead part of the problem of affordable health care and not a solution that he testifies to be. How he professes to love his country yet is married to a woman who has publicly stated again and again her contempt for it.

    Guess liberals want the ugly side of Clinton shown, but not of Obama.

  7. mike/ says:

    I’ve always been amazed that people think that they can take back words they’ve spoken. Once something is said, it’s said. You can’t go back. You can apologize, admitting that you made a mistake, but is the mistake because of what you said or because you got caught?

    George Washington, our first president, was obsessed with manners and civility. At the age of 16 he put down a list of 110 things he believed were

    “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation”

    that should be followed by all.

    # 65 Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion

    The subtext I read? Your words will come back to bite you in the a**.

  8. C.Wagener says:

    Come on Christopher! Obama, Clinton, McCain, Kerry, Gore, these people are important. They need really ostentatious houses.

    What do you think, we’re going to get a guy living in a 4,000 square foot, energy efficient house in the middle of a two square mile haven for wildlife? Couldn’t happen.

  9. laura says:

    If Obama is a hypocrite for having a nice house, what does that make Clinton and McCain?

    I think Obama should fire Powers but I also think that her reaction is natural given Hillary’s decision to use Rove tactics on her fellow Democrats. She should have had the political smarts to keep her opinion to herself, but it is entirely understandable that she had that opinion.

    Actually I’m enjoying the show: all the Clinton surrogates saying “She is not a monster!”

  10. Anderson says:

    Powers resigns, which will put Hillary on the spot next time one of her own dimwits says something hateful about Obama.

  11. floyd says:

    “”…says Hillary Clinton is a monster who’ll stoop to anything to win the nomination.””

    But… Nobody wants her to anymore, not even Bill!

  12. floyd says:

    “”Hillary Clinton a ‘Monster’ Says Obama Advisor””
    Maybe she is the same adviser that gave Obama the campaign slogan from children’s television[Builder Bob]
    So she means this in a nice cuddly way, like “Cookie Monster” from “Sesame Street”!

  13. LaurenceB says:

    Now that Obama has fired Powers, it will be interesting to watch as the commenters above who were (justifiably) critical of her comments return to this forum to post new comments praising Obama’s quick, decisive and righteous actions. Certainly, he is a much better candidate and a much better person in their eyes at this point.

    I’m sure they’re all going to leave comments praising Obama…

    Any second now…

  14. Bob says:

    I found the comment that Powers was “a superstar” sad. She hasn’t done anything except publish books and work the lecture & talk circuit. I much prefer someone who actually had to run something & deliver something for a while. The candidates on Democratic side both lack real experience and Obama seems to use advisors with a similiar lack of real-world experience.

    As for praising Obama, OK – he sure jettisoned that one quick. He does seem to realize its best to throw out the ones with “loose lips” rather than sign & dance for “loyalty sake” over a few days. Of course he does have that same problem with the wife but jettisoning her is gonna be problematic…

  15. Christopher says:


    Republicans are not ashamed of wealth and big houses the way u liberals are. They don’t think they are better than others and so deserve a bigger nicer house more then them. And they don’t try to help people just by throwing money at them, like you liberals do. We are interested in helping them get on their own 2 feet.

    THAT is why Obamessiah is a hypocrite.

  16. LaurenceB says:

    Any second now I expect that a whole bunch of folks are going to show up in these comments and shower praise on Obama for standing up for his commitment to running a clean and classy campaign – even if it means firing people on his staff for what appear to be somewhat trivial transgressions.

    I’m sure those folks will start entering highly laudatory comments any second now…

    Or maybe James will update the post to express his admiration for Obama’s high ideals?

    Any second now…

  17. sam says:

    Republicans are not ashamed of wealth and big houses the way u liberals are. They don’t think they are better than others and so deserve a bigger nicer house more then them


    Yo, Chris, how’re those English-as-a-second-language classes going?

  18. floyd says:

    Why bother, the confounded language of Babel appears to have become official in the U.S. anyway!

  19. PJens says:

    Three, maybe even two weeks from now, the conversation will be about something else. (Does anybody recall the Clinton campaign in shambles?)I find it sad that presidential politics have been reduced to attacks from one candidate upon another.

    I predict that if Mr. Obama is the democratic nominee, McCain will choose a female for his VP. Likewise, if Ms. Clinton is the opponent, the republican VP choice will be a person of color. That will not be a bad thing. Politics have become a serious game. Strategy is part of it, and maybe that is the best for the country.

    Fun to watch though ain’t it? Kinda like professional wrestling in a demented way.

  20. LaurenceB says:

    Sarcasm having apparently failed, I will merely note that how Obama has behaved in this case is precisely how I imagine I would behave if I were a candidate. Upon introspection, I suspect others would have to admit the same.

    That this fact did not merit even one comment here, I find deeply depressing. Not so much because the case of Ms. Power was hugely significant – it wasn’t – but simply because it seems so emblematic of a prevailing general cynicism wherein bad campaign behavior is condemned, and good campaign behavior is also condemned.

  21. USpace says:

    Great post. Obama’s aid was right. Hillary is a monster. Of course not the same kind of monster as Hitler, Mao & Stalin; but a monster nonetheless.
    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    claim to care for people

    call yourself progressive
    your policies hurt poor folk

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    elect women presidents

    who cover for their husbands
    who rape other women

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    vote for any woman

    better than any man
    none could make things any worse

    if you’re MAD
    punish your country
    VOTE for Hillary


    Go here and watch ‘The Hillary Show’, with Howard Dean. It’s Hillarious!



  22. DL says:

    Hillary’s real reaction:

    Monster? that’s is a deliberate misquote by the right wing press again. She said Minister -minister, like Mike Huckabee. I think it’s a personal insult to the Christians of America to have their god attacked in order to get me. Is there nothing they won’t stoop to doing?

  23. floyd says:

    “”a prevailing general cynicism wherein bad campaign behavior is condemned, and good campaign behavior is also condemned.””

    The Bad behavior will come AFTER the election!
    It might be refreshing if the campaign became much more vitriolic! Maybe EVEN come to blows! A few cuss words and gestures between them would make them real “CANDID”ates. A good fist fight on the debate stage might draw more interest![lol] There is historical precedence after all!
    Who would’t vote for Aaron Burr over the the field from which we have to choose today??[grinz]