Class Act, or Mendacious Moral Midget?
1. In March, 2008, while working as a foreign policy advisor on Barack Obama’s primary campaign, Power slipped up in an interview and accidentally told the truth. In an on-the-record interview given during a book tour, Power opined about Hillary Clinton: “She is a monster . . . she is stooping to anything. . . . The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.”
2. Hoping to keep her position with Obama, who had pledged to avoid a negative campaign, once her comment was published Power pleaded mental incapacity regarding why she said those words: “I can’t even believe they came out of my mouth.” Her “monster” comment stemmed from “believing I was just talking to myself . . . .” After all, she’d earlier confessed, she was only an average law student and never passed the bar exam. Power flogged herself for “inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Sen. Clinton . . . .” She even described Clinton as “incredibly warm, funny,” and claimed she’d always “sung her praises as the leader she’s been, the intellect.” Far from being a “monster,” Power said, Clinton is a “role model” for women.
3. Power’s awkward efforts at damage control failed after Clinton noted her comments were part of a pattern of Obama advisors saying “one thing in public and another in private,” and Power was forced to resign her position with the campaign.
4. After further abject apologies to Clinton, in 2009 Power landed a White House job which involved working closely with the “monster.”
5. As part of her modest ambition “to transform the way the United States conducted its foreign policy around the world,” Power used her White House position to advance her controversial humanitarian rights theory that the U.S. has a “responsibility to protect” (R2P) civilians from being killed by their own government, by going to war with that government if necessary. This is the theory that earned Power her nickname: “Genocide Chick.”
6. After hundreds of Libyan civilians were massacred by the Gaddafi regime and it had threatened to massacre many more, in 2011 Power, tired of “doing rinky-dink do-gooder stuff,” worked with Clinton to bring down the regime and stop the slaughter, in part by supplying Stinger missles to al-Qaeda forces temporarily allied with the U.S. (a tactic the CIA warned posed serious long-term risks, which proved tragically correct).
7. But the “Genocide Chick” stood by silently in 2012-13 as the world’s next genocide occurred in Syria, with the Bashar al-Assad regime dominated by Alawites engaging in the widespread slaughter of Sunni and other civilians, and with the U.S. doing little to try to bring an end to the massacre. Even though she had pioneered the R2P principle, Power kept a “low profile” on Syria. She opted to protect her personal relationship with the President, and her future job prospects (as the expected next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations), rather than resign in protest and speak out in favor of more vigorous action by the world community to quickly bring an end to the continuing slaughter of Syrian civilians. Indeed, in hopes of securing the U.N. ambassadorship she advocated promoting Susan Rice, the current incumbent, to Secretary of State even though she’d criticized Rice in 2001 for her willingness to sacrifice lives being lost in the Rwanda genocide based on political considerations. When Power eventually did leave her White House position in early 2013 — after the expected U.N. position failed to materialize — she did so in silence, without protesting the Administration’s failure to apply the “responsibility to protect” doctrine in Syria.
8. In her Class Day speech, perhaps lending credence to her 2008 plea of mental incapacity, Power rambled on about the sex lives of overachievers, her fantasy about winning an Olympic medal in curling, the color of her and her daughter’s hair, and the odd term she uses to describe her head: it’s a “bat cave” (Power said she’s in her head “so often that sometimes it is hard to concentrate with all the bats swarming around”). Power spoke candidly on these subjects knowing the physician-patient privilege bars her psychiatrist from disclosing the specifics of her mental condition.