Samantha Power Joining Obama Team

Samantha Power, who famously called Hillary Clinton a “monster,” is going to get a key spot on President Obama’s National Security Council team.

As I note in my New Atlanticist post, “Obama’s Team of Rivals Gets More Interesting,” this raises an interesting question.

Will Clinton be a powerful Secretary of State or will Obama run his foreign policy from the White House through National Security Advisor Jim Jones and his team? Most of the speculation I hear is betting on the latter.

Both Jones — who served as the Atlantic Council’s chairman immediately prior to taking the post — and Clinton gave up very good positions to take their jobs. Jones was almost certainly paying more in taxes from his various private sector positions than he’ll earn in the administration and Clinton was a very influential player in the Senate. One presumes they both received assurances that their voices would be heard in shaping policy before signing on.

It’ll be interesting to watch this play out.

AP Photo by Sheila Griffin

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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. Dave Schuler says:

    As I’ve complained about the Bush White House for eight years, pitting your subordinates against one another is a commonplace but weak management approach.

  2. Matthew Stinson says:

    This sort of thing might be a (drum roll) problem from hell for the White House to manage.

    Seriously, though: I think Power could only be brought on board as a low-profile adviser, not a major voice in the administration. Obama can’t possibly forget that the Clintons have long memories and a big capacity for revenge.

  3. Jim Henley says:

    Haven’t most modern secretaries of state played second fiddle to the NSC head?

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Most modern secretaries of state haven’t been Hillary Clinton.

  5. Franklin says:

    I don’t know if this helps, but Power has apologized at least twice to Hillary. So I’m not sure if there’s really any animosity left there.

    So if the SoS vs. NSC dynamic is always going to be there, I’m not sure why it should be better or worse than usual. Feel free to educate me.

  6. Jim Henley says:

    Dave, absolutely. It does make one wonder why she took the job. Structurally, the SoS is always going to be at a disadvantage to the NSA, I think, because the NSA is in the building with the President more.

    On the other hand, Hillary is a grownup, and you have to figure she made a considered decision.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    The Team of Rivals analogy isn’t apt here. The original team of rivals were all Presidential aspirants. Some of them didn’t like each other, but primarily they represented different factions of an emerging party and could draw strength from those factions.

    Power doesn’t strike me as having the clout to contend with here. And as far as ideology goes, don’t Power and Clinton both hail from a similar activist foreign policy wing? Policy wise there would be far more contentious picks.

  8. This administration, for all of its efforts to prove that it’s “big” about putting past differences aside, is going to find itself bogged down by those very same past differences. Because they aren’t in the past, really. Not as long as there’s another election 4 years away and positioning for it to be done.

  9. markm says:

    …earthy bugger…

  10. just me says:

    I suspect Obama is going to micromanage form the white house.

    Problem for Obama is that I don’t think Hillary is the type to be micromanaged or to be a figure head. I strongly suspect there is going to be some head butting and back stabbing before this is all over-the real question isn’t whether it happens IMO but who gets the knife in the back.

  11. Dantheman says:

    “I strongly suspect there is going to be some head butting and back stabbing before this is all over”

    Will Hillary keep some information from the NSC, or will she speak truth to Power?

    (sorry — couldn’t resist).

  12. Thomas Jackson says:

    Nothing but the best for President 666!

    I always wanted to see a politburo in action in the WH.

  13. Brett says:

    I opposed appointing her as Secretary of State from the beginning, and I’m actually feeling slightly vindicated up to this point. Not because of the Power hiring decision, but because of the idiocy of firing Dybul from the US Aids effort.

  14. Eneils Bailey says:

    I don’t see a problem here.
    Give her what she wants.
    Keep her ugly ass in Washington.
    Damn if I want to see her snooping around my place after dark.

    National Security Team..? huh.. sounds good to me.. that girl would make any dog bark in the dark… that will serve National security well..

  15. Sylena says:

    Personally, I just have to laugh.