Friday, March 07, 2008


Senior Foreign Policy adviser and long-time friend to Senator Barack Obama, Samantha Power, has resigned her position from the Obama campaign. The news comes after an interview she gave to the London newspaper The Scotsman, in which she referred to Senator Clinton as "a monster."

This is the second misstep by the Obama campaign and while not significant enough to do much damage to the still rolling but appropriately slowed juggernaut of hiscampaign, does raise the question of whether the campaign's inexperience at this level of political contests is beginning to reveal itself.

Last week, news leaked by the Canadian government about comments another Obama adviser made during a separate interview concerning Obama's stance on NAFTA.

Another interview Power gave earlier in the year is garnering attention as well. While talking with the BBC during her book tour she said that Obama's commitment to withdrawing from Iraq is actually not a commitment at all (via Politico):
"What he’s actually said, after meeting with the generals and meeting with intelligence professionals, is that you – at best case scenario – will be able to withdraw one to two combat brigades each month. That’s what they’re telling him. He will revisit it when he becomes president," Power says.

The host, Stephen Sackur, challenged her:"So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out in 16 months isn't a commitment isn't it?"

"You can’t make a commitment in March 2008 about what circumstances will be like in January of 2009," she said. "He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he’s crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator. He will rely upon a plan – an operational plan – that he pulls together in consultation with people who are on the ground to whom he doesn’t have daily access now, as a result of not being the president. So to think – it would be the height of ideology to sort of say, 'Well, I said it, therefore I’m going to impose it on whatever reality greets me.'"
Watch the full interview:
While I understand that Barack can't always guarantee his promises on the campaign trail (we Americans are familiar with candidates who fail to follow through on their broad plans "for change") what is shocking about Power's admission is that Obama is indeed asking the American people to believe in something he doesn't believe himself, which for a campaign based on Hope and Unity could be the splinter that breaks the camel's back.

And this brings me to the concern I have with Obama in general. He's not a fighter. He's not going to battle for what's right, even when everyone else is telling him he should. I fear that this age of corporate take-overs and unchecked power calls on leaders and citizens to stand up and fight for change, not negotiate for it. The greatest moments in our history were largely constructed by everyday people and leaders fighting against the status quo or contemporary beliefs. Great change in this country never came about when everyone walked away from the table with a smile on their face. Men beat the iron-jawed angels of the women's rights movement outside the White House gates, and white police officers fire-hosed African-Americans in the streets of Birmingham and neither group committed those acts because they thought they were winning the ideological battle; they committed those acts because they felt they were being seriously challenged by an energized and angry population.

Great change in this country, the kind of change Obama and Clinton perpetually fill their speeches with but fail to expound upon, does not come about from making everyone happy. Sometimes, your decision to stand up for what is right will infuriate people, even your friends, and if your goal is to placate the room, that change will be sacrificed.

While I sense Obama understands this, I don't believe he is truly willing to engender it His own history reflects someone who will continually bend when the opposition makes enough noise, which is an amazing trait and one fit for perhaps another time. But right now we need a fighter.

But the other side of this is, do we think Clinton will do any better? Probably not. So where does that leave me? Once again, settling for someone I don't have tremendous faith in to bring to bear the type of change we could see in this country.

One other spin on this story that isn't being spun: what if the comment had been made by a man, not Sam Power?

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