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