Although she was my 5th or 6th choice at the start of the Presidential Primary season, I now support Senator Clinton over Senator Obama. However, the first Obama decision that impressed me was selecting Samantha Power as a foreign policy advisor. Power is a brilliant and courageous expert, scholar and journalist who speaks truth to power. (See her blog with video of recent television appearances)
Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, is fantastic and holds accountable the United States Congress and the Clinton administration for its inaction and deadly impact on the Rwandan Genocide. Power did some research about Senator Obama and offered to quit her Harvard job and do anything, including answering phones to help him. Isn’t this the sort of democratic idealism on which our system is based?
Appointing someone of Power’s stature to his campaign team offered me with hope about Obama’s leadership ability and revealed Power’s desire to work to make the world a better place.
But then IT happened!
In an off-the-record interview, promoting her new book, with the Scotsman newspaper in Scotland. Professor Power referred to Hillary Clinton as – wait for it – “a monster.”
Monster… Should such a petty slur force a leading advisor to resign and apologize? Worst of all, Obama failed the leadership test by throwing his friend and advisor, Ms. Power, under the bus and refusing to defend or protect her. This is akin to when Bill Clinton abandoned his long-time friend Lani Guinier as the nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, despite her remarkable talents and accomplishments, because his enemies called her a radical.
Don’t parents refer routinely to their toddlers as monsters? Isn’t this the sort of harmless barb (or term of endearment) six year-olds exchange? When did we become such pathetic babies?
I suspect the truth is that members of Congress called for Power’s dismissal because is an articulate fearless critic of their deadly effect of their policies overseas, not for her Clinton comment.
Politics ain’t beanbag. NPR recently presented a story in which foreign correspondents covering our Primary elections were startled by the civility and post-debate hugging demonstrated between Obama and Clinton. After all, in many countries you murder your opponents and their supporters. Is calling someone a monster, off-the-record, a death-penalty offense? Should Billy Shaheen have been forced out of the Clinton campaign for saying that the Republicans will ask Barack Obama about his past drug-use, especially since Obama wrote about the issue in his own autobiography?
Loyalty toward friends and advisors is one of the character traits I look for in a political candidate.
Why are we so juvenile and thin-skinned? Can someone please dial down the fake outrage machine? The world is a dangerous place. I’d hate to think that we’d attack another country because its leader called our President “funny face.”
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is the author of Twenty Things to Do with a Computer – Forward 50, co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.