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The Power Hour

As many of you have no doubt heard, Samantha Power, Obama’s foreign policy advisor, resigned her position after an interview with the Scotsman quoted her as calling Hillary Clinton “a Monster”. Maybe she was talking about the Grendel’s mother kind of monster in the new version of Beowulf. It might have been a compliment, in her own unique way.

Unfortunately, very few other people saw the possible literary allusion in Power’s statement. But Samantha Power is no low level Billy Shaheen, carelessly speculating on how the media will eventually make mincemeat of Obama over his past drug use. No, this is much bigger than that. Greg Sargent at TPM tells us just how big a deal this is:

As David Kurtz says, it’s worth noting that Power is a very significant player in the Obama universe — his leading foreign policy guru and someone who’s been close to him for some time. So this isn’t like the resignation of that Hillary county volunteer who spread the Obama Muslim smear email or the stepping-down of that Obama precinct captain who spread the anti-Hillary lit.

Rather, Obama is losing a key adviser and very visible advocate on foreign policy at a time when national security is front and center in the Dem primary — an outcome that helps explain why the Hillary camp pushed so hard for her ouster.

So, it looks like Obama’s campaign has more egg on its face. It’s gone from a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day on Tuesday to a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Week in General. Life is like that. You’re cruisin’ to the nomination for the most powerful person in the world one minute and cleaning up from the mess your campaign dumps on you the next. Que sera, sera.

I wonder how the Clinton campaign refers to Obama. May I suggest “Twinkle” because he’s no Beowulf.

One more thing:  I’m with Big Tent Democrat on Josh Marshall’s hypocrisy.  It seems that if Hillary’s camp makes a mistake, it’s desperation or incompetence or some other damn thing.  But if Obama’s camp steps in it, it’s because Hillary is getting inside his head and hammering him.  Sooo, according to Marshall, she’s the worst politician strategically *and* she’s a brilliant psy-ops mentat.  It’s hard to believe she can be both simultaneously.  But that’s Josh for you- not making a whole lot of sense these days.  He may have to adjust his rhetoric if he wants the ad revenue to come in at a steady stream from here on out.

Personally, I think that Obama’s camp is becoming unglued all by itself.  It can’t score the big ones, it’s running out of time and people are just now starting to notice that he gets more delegates by suppressing Clinton voters than by actually, you know, *winning*.  Not pretty.

45 Responses

  1. Wow! Apparently Power also told the BBC that Obama might not really be committed to pulling out all the troops from Iraq according to his announced timetable. MAblue posted a link in the previous thread. Does anyone else get the feeling that Obama’s campaign is very rapidly self-destructing?

  2. BB: Yes, I get that feeling. With the emphasis on “self”. There hasn’t been a lot of personal attacks from the media. They just seem to be stepping in it left and right.

  3. With advisors like these:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/03/07/obama-brennan/

    Keep in mind we are talking about the preferred candidate for “progressives”.

    For fun and frivolities, try this new game from Jake Tapper regarding BO’s advisors and foreign countries screwups.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/03/game-time.html

  4. I don’t think Obama’s campaign is necessarily self-destructing. I think this is how they operated from day one but have been given a slide. They have done some serious stuff that generated nothing more than a sigh (remember JJ Jr. and the “analyze the tears” comment?). Keep in mind it wasn’t a domestic source that exposed this comment (or NAFTAgate)I have a hard time imagining, say, a Healy at the Times actually publishing Power’s monster comment or even mentioning NAFTAgate. It was exposed by a foreign press with much less desire to screw over Hillary. Even Rezko is still mostly a local media issue. If Hillary were in a similar situation, the liberal bloggers and national press corps would be salivating.

    Obama’s campaign hasn’t been all that disciplined really. They have made steps that would normally cause great damage to a campaign, but he’s been coddled by a Hillary-hating media mob. It was really, really, really hard for the national press to ignore Hillary’s lopsided OH, RI wins and the strong performance in TX. No matter how they spun it (look at the liberal blozosphere, for example) people saw what happened. and pretty much EVERYONE I know saw it and congratulated me (I guess because I said she was going to be the next president even the day after WI). these are people not always paying attention, too.

  5. MABLue– OMG! That Jake Tapper thing is hilarious. I’m hoping to see more of this ridicule of the Obama campaign in the media. I wonder if any of this will seep into the Sunday morning shows, or will they just keep on hyping McCain?

  6. riverdaughter, thank you for clarifying what BTD said:

    I’m with Big Tent Democrat on Josh Marshall’s hypocrisy. It seems that if Hillary’s camp makes a mistake, it’s desperation or incompetence or some other damn thing. But if Obama’s camp steps in it, it’s because Hillary is getting inside his head and hammering him. Sooo, according to Marshall, she’s the worst politician strategically *and* she’s a brilliant psy-ops mentat. It’s hard to believe she can be both simultaneously.

    I was totally confused and even after asking him directly didn’t get it. I’ve already gone over there to post your explanation.

    Thanks again.

  7. gqm: You are right that he was being coddled but I think there really *is* something going on here. They’ve broken their stride. I think Josh is partially right that Clinton has gotten into his head. That’s her job. In this kind of game, messing with your opponent’s head is standard operating procedure. But the problem is that Obama got cocky and Samantha Power was just giving free expression to what Obama’s supporters have been saying about Clinton all along. She probably didn’t think anyone would care. After Tuesday, they are playing in a completely different game. No amount of money has been sufficient to polish Clinton off, not even in Texas. I think it might be dawning on them that they can’t win this thing without suppressing more votes and that is starting to look obvious to the casual observer.
    They bought their own hype and didn’t think that Hillary, “The Monster” had any friends. Now they know otherwise and it’s not going to be so easy for them from here on out even if the media was still fluffing him like all get out. Obama is the one on the defense now and he can’t afford to make any mistakes.

  8. Katiebird: Don’t quote me on that. It’s just my interpretation. It’s like, “She’s totally eeeeeeevil and dangerous, but she can’t shoot straight.”

  9. Not a very good day for my (other) country. I guess that this development (terrorist attact two days before the GE) may give an advantage to the Conservative party. Oh well, we’ll see, I was hoping for a second term for the Socialist Party.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080307/ap_on_re_eu/spain_elections

    As for Ms. Power, good riddance. She obviously does not share with her ex-boss his “gargantuan intellect”….pleeeease.

  10. riverdaughter: it’s too late…. 🙂 I hope it’s ok…. I understood it your way. I don’t know why I couldn’t follow what he said.

  11. So, was Samantha Powers Obama’s Condi Rice? Is that how high level she was?

    I can’t believe she said what she said and then did an “oops, that was off the record.” Reading the British press has become a necessity to get a full picture of what is going on in our own political sphere.

  12. rd– You are so right. I was reading a little of the discussion at the orange place about how Clinton’s campaign supposedly made Obama look darker in a video. But at the same time they were claiming that her campaign did this, the Obamites also said that Clinton’s campaign didn’t know anything about the internet or posting video, altering video, etc. and how her advisors are all idiots. So how did they supposedly change Obama’s skin color deliberately?

    Also, I really do see something happening here. I agree with gqm that Obama’s campaign has made mistakes before and have been given a pass by the media, but somehow I feel there has been a real shift now. The problems are bigger (Rezko trial, losing Texas, losing Power and having Goolsbee compromised), and media has picked up the scent of blood in the water and are circling like sharks. And your points about how Hillary is cleverly positioning herself to look more presidential than Obama is going to work better now that Obama looks so weak and unable to control his own surrogates. It may well be that Power was encouraged to diss Hillary overseas–that the campaign thought they could get away with it. But they aren’t getting away with as much anymore, and I don’t think they can turn it around completely. Obama is damaged.

  13. Katiebird: It’s OK. It’s just that sometimes Armando can be a bit of a stickler.
    Litigatormom: Yes, she reminds me of Condi Rice and I think that was her role. And yes, I think the reference to Monster with respect to Grendel’s mother and Beowulf was not accidental.

  14. Litigatormom,

    Exactly. Power was like Condi Rice to Obama. This is a huge loss for him. Of course he’ll keep using her as an advisor, but she can’t work for the campaign now.

  15. rd: I know and I actually gave it a lot of thought before I posted the quote. And that’s why I cut off the quote where I did.

    The thing is, a couple of other people in comments farther on seemed to have the same struggle I had in following his logic (I actually thought he must have left something out.) So I thought I should share it (with a link back here)

    If he doesn’t agree with your interpretation, he’ll say so — but so far he’s let it stand.

    You’re writing is wonderful — insightful AND entertaining. And everyone should know about it.

  16. I agree riverdaughter. The Obama campaign is unraveling on its own and the Obamabots will try to place any blame on her right now to make her look like the bad guy. Time used to be on Obama’s side but now it’s with Clinton. More time gives Clinton to convince people she’s the better candidate and win more delegates. More time for Obama means more vetting, more tough questions, more people realizing he’s an empty suit with no strategy for health care or getting out of Iraq.

  17. How true, DV. After reading riverdaughter’s post this afternoon, I realized that Hillary is capable of running circles around Obama. She is going forward with her plans to be the nominee and meanwhile Obama and his supporters are fussing over pledged delegates and claiming he actually won TX and didn’t lose CA badly. But they are simply fighting old battles and making arguments that ordinary voters don’t care about. Hillary won the popular vote in TX and CA, period.

    Now she is solidifying her C-in-C creds in preparation for the general election. She will have to move to the right to win in Nov., as Obama would have to do too. But she can’t be seen as another McGovern, one issue, anti-war candidate. She has recognized that the Iraq war is wrong and she can pin Bush’s view of the war on McCain. At the same time, she has demonstrated that she will be tough on national security and that lots of military leaders are behind her.

    I’m excited. I’m gaining more respect for Hillary’s political acumen every day. I’ll bet she really was the power behind Bill’s presidency all along.

  18. I meant to say that unlike Obama, Clinton can’t be seen as a McGovern-like, one-issue candidate.

  19. I still stick by my view that Obama has always ran an arrogant campaign and finally being called out, even if it took a foreign press to expose it and an SNL sketch to make the domestic media look like idiots–go Tina Fey!

    I’m actually not happy about Power leaving. She may have “smoked the hopium” but she’s a smart cookie that balances out some of the more hawkish Obama advisers. If he were to be the nominee, I’d be happier with her by his side. Bonehead comments? Sure.

  20. Went to Poltico and found this definition in the comments section to the Ms. Power/Iraq withdrawal brouhaha

    “Obama = just another say-anything-to-get-elected politician”

    I pretty much agree…

  21. This is typical from you Hillary supporters.

    You are focusing on useless stuff like NAFTA, Iraq withdrawal plans, calling a leading American figure “monster”, national security… Ergh.

    WHERE IS HILLARY CLINTON TAX RETURN?

    If we can see it NOW, that will tell you how great Obama is at addressing the useless issues mentioned above.

  22. By the way gq, nice article (visited from both here and the TMarsh site).

  23. Peter Daou posted a diary a little while ago on Big Orange asking why it was okay for Obama to call Hillary a liar all the time but it was not okay to say that Obama had no yet established CiC cred.

    The vultures arrived immediately and it wasn’t pretty. I fled. But it made me wonder — where has Peter Daou been all these months? Why wasn’t he making more frequent visits to Orange last year, when it might have helped build a more favorable view of Clinton?

    I mean, there were always people there who weren’t going to support her no matter what. There were always people there who were going to hold her Iraq resolution vote against her no matter what. But the level of hostility rose so fast, so high — it’s hard to remember now when or why it happened. Was it after Iowa? When the MSM was gloating over her imminent demise? Except that after NH the MSM stopped gloating, at least for a little while, while the Obamans got mad at her for not crawling under a rock to die.

    At least, that’s my hazy recollection. But to return to my initial question: do you think Daou could have made a difference for her in the blogosphere with more early work? Or do you think Obamamania and Hillary Hate would have run amok no matter what?

  24. I don’t know about “sophisticated psy-ops” but clearly they were rattled by the Ohio loss (more than Texas, I think, because it was so big) and they seem to think that “going negative” is the only explanation. I actually think calmer heads – like Gail Collins and David Brooks in the NYT – are getting it right that what happened was that Clinton talked specifics, and Obama hasn’t. I think people (i.e. non campaign veterans) think “going negative” is easy, and it”s not, and Power was careless and probably misspoke (I’m willing, here, to be generous). So is it a psych out to say Obama’s people think they’re playing a mind game? I don’t think so; I think they don’t know what else to do… and probably what they should do is get out a good,policy speech full of economic specifics and reinvent the game.

  25. I suspect that Daou was hired with good intentions but wasnt trusted by Penn. Hillary’s campaign has been a top down, centrally controlled operation. The netroots has a degree of unpredictability about it that Is very risky. They thought they were going to take super Tuesday and didn’t plan on the Dean brothers ambushing them. So they didn’t turn to their net/grassroots until it was almost too late. But I have a feeling that Peter has been playing a role that we may not yet be aware of. Someday, we’ll find out what he’s been up to.
    on another note, my sister in Harrisburg called me. Barry is in big trouble I
    in PA. I’m going to see if she will post for us.

  26. riverdaughter:

    If Penn nixed greater involvement from Daou, I think that was another Penn mistake. I’ve not been impressed by him as a campaign strategist.

    Not surprising to me that Obama isn’t doing well in PA. The vote is a long way off, of course, so things could change. But my guess is a Clinton win on the order of Ohio.

    Texas is very frustrating. The Orange is now calling it a “lie” that Clinton won Texas because Obama got more delegates out of that accursed caucus system. (Really, the caucus shit has got to stop. How can any system so arcane be “democratic”? If MI’s “do-over” is a caucus my head will explode.)

    But I digress. Obama was expecting in the last week before 3/4 to carry Texas and was leading in the polls for most of that week. All the talk was “will Hillary drop out if she wins Ohio but loses Texas” with everyone agreeing that she would be forced out by 3/5 because she wasn’t going to win Texas.

    So she wins the popular vote — not by Ohio style margins, but by more than, let’s say, 500 votes — but doesn’t take more delegates due to the caucus element. All the people who are calling her win a “lie” are the same people who to this day insist that Al Gore is the rightfully elected president because he won the national popular vote (leaving aside issues of fraud in FLA and the Supreme’s corrupt decision).

    Thank God the national election doesn’t involve caucuses.

  27. riverdaughter: I say don’t let our guard down. She will more than likely win in PA but I don’t want us to get into the same trap the Obama campaign made for themselves with the expectations game. Always better to set lower expectations in case something unexpected happens in the next seven weeks.
    I saw on MSNBC that the Obama campaign is betting on winning the Philidelphia suburbs. That is their best bet since Clinton will likely win everything between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Obama will win Philadelphia but they are going after the upper class whites in the suburbs. Clinton has the support of Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter who is an African-American and I have faith that they have established a solid grassroots campaign in that state.
    Things are looking better in Wyoming. Thousands of people showed up to here Bill Clinton speak and Chelsea spoke at a college. I’m happy that Wyoming is getting all of this attention since the Democrats there seem to be a forgotten minority. I have a feeling Obama will likely win WY because it’s a caucus but the Clintons are working to close that gap. I can see a lot of the Republicans there who are unsatisfied with the economy going to Clinton before Obama. I just have a good feeling about it.

  28. Has it occurred to our crackwhores reporters that the phoniness and duplicity of BO has come through the foreign press?

    That’s actually telling about the pathetic coverage we have had here.

  29. MA Blue:

    Our crackwhore reporters don’t like to read the foreign press because it reminds them that they are crackwhores.

  30. MaBlue: This is why I’ve turned off CNN, MSNBC, and FOX. Foreign press has always been better. Watch BBC. When I was a study abroad student in France during college I was amazed at the difference reporters in other European countries covered the Iraq War. The U.S. media has lied to us as long as I could remember and I don’t expect them to stop anytime soon. I wish there was a way we could overthrow these corrupt news networks. I’m doing my part by turning off the television and giving ad revenue to the sites on riverdaughter’s blogroll.

  31. re Power as Condi – from Steve Clemons Washington Note:

    Samantha Power also served as Barack Obama’s chief tutor on foreign policy during the first year of his tenure in the US Senate. … had she remained a “fellow” in his Senate Office, Power would have made sure he took the helm of Senate Foreign Relations Committee/European Subcomittee hearings …

    Steve also has high regard for Power (“one of the outstanding intellectuals of our time”), and I have high regard for Steve.

  32. Don’t have time for a full post, but pls recall the flap Power raised on Tucker 2007-11-02, endorsing Carlson’s bogus narrative and adding one of her own. (I thought she’d ultimately have to apologize to remain with the campaign back then.)

    See contemporaneous posts by Greg Sargent and Taylor Marsh.

    Context: this came in follow-on to Hillary’s “disastrous” 2007-10-30 debate performance – the 8-against-1 debate, wrapped around yet another bogus narrative (her supposed endorsement of Gov. Spitzer’s proposal on drivers licenses ffor undocumented immigrants).

    Would that whole magilla have played differently in today’s post-SNL media environment?

  33. Loved the post and the analysis behind it. Forwarding many of them has done wonders for my Hillary friends across the net. Hopefully they are now taking the time to visit.

    But I wanted to follow up on earlier comments regarding Hillary’s point person Peter Daou and the blogosphere.

    I agree that her campaign could have handled the Net better in the beginning but I believe that failure ultimately worked to her benefit. Getting pounded by the A-List blogs raised so much trash it immunized her in most folks’ mind. It spawned a number of wonderful new blogs, like this one, and brought readers to some terrific (albeit smaller) places, like Talk Left. More to the point it created a strong set of supporters who otherwise may not have come to her so passionately this early in the election.

    We are also seeing the effects on her. She has always been a good politician but had a reserve about her. Now she knows she has nothing left to lose and that (paradoxically) has enabled her to win it all. She’s connecting with most of the key elements of the electorate (with only the unfortunate loss of the African-American vote; the self-styled left progressives have never been the Clinton’s friend nor that popular with the electorate).

    We have to get her past the primary because she will stomp in November. How especially ironic that Jerome Armstrong will actually get proven right over Markos (he predicted that she would have the hardest time in the primaries but easiest in the General).

  34. DV: I don’t want to say too much but trust me, *they* are not at all complacent. They know what they have to do.

  35. Cdalygo: I agree with much of what you have written. It was probably a very good idea to stay clear of the biggies. It might have helped her early on but after YearlyKos, she probably missed her opportunity. Yes the adversity made her a better candidate. I don’t think she trusted or believed that we were out here. To be honest, I started out as an Edwards person and expressed a lot of the same stuff about her inevitability that everyone else did. But when I saw her in person with the other candidates, she completely blew me away. She was so much better than the others that I was sold, right as I walked out of the ballroom after the candidate’s forum.
    So, I understand why her campaign was reluctant to trust us or even like us very much. I hope she knows now that we are out here and we will work for her because we like her. We really like her!

  36. Hi guys. I was just watching KO — yeah, I know, I’m a masochist — and he was covering the Samantha Powers “monster” comment. Of course, political neophyte Powers just made an inappropriate, but off-hand remark. She apologized immediately, and resigned immediately. In stark contrast, Hillary refused to apologize for someone comparing Obama to Ken Starr.

    This is followed by a colloquy with Dana Milbank in which the discussion was how all this was going to work out okay for Obama because (1) Obama acted quickly; and (2) POWERS WAS ONLY GIVING VOICE TO WHAT MANY OBAMA SUPPORTERS BELIEVE ANYWAY.

    Wait, it gets worse. KO said “Isn’t truth a defense?”

    I’m writing to MSNBC now. I suggest others do the same.

  37. litigatormom: Wow, are you serious???? That is basically KO and Milbank confirming that Clinton is in fact a monster. That is OUTRAGEOUS. I hope a video of his show gets on youtube soon so we can post it on various websites and start another mass email campaign to MSNBC. KO needs to apologize for that statement.

  38. I do not have cable and have not followed KO all that much since he started his latest political commentary phase.

    I remember seeing segments in C&Liars or YTube. At first, he sounded really interesting, if nothing else because he was the O’R antithesis, but lately, even before I decided to support Hillary over Obama, he was starting to sound pretty silly and full of himself.

    I recall once seeing the idiotic “puppet” crap that went on and on and thinking, oh man, this guy is full of himself.

    I know many love him. Me, not so much.

  39. LGM: There is a profit motive behind MSNBC. They are raking in the big bucks from the Maxim set. Plus, they really hate her. But isn’t this the way things have played since time immemorial? Older, wiser women who bucked the societal norms are always the scapegoats for any natural disaster. What we have here is the true meaning of the word “witch hunt”.

  40. Disenfranchised Voter:

    I don’t know if this will wind up on C&L or even KO’s website. But transcripts of Countdown are usually available on the web within a couple of days.

    I think my DVR is still set to record KO every night, even though I no longer watch every night (yes, I used to record him so I could watch even if I got home late). But I have no idea how to download from a DVR to Youtube.

    And yes, it was jaw-dropping, at least to me. I’ve written to Countdown, to Dan Abrams (station manager) and KO himself to say that I am no longer an MSNBC viewer.

  41. Me Again. Sorry to bug you again– but…Please VOLUNTEER if you would be willing to POST ONLINE COMMENTS in local papers FOR HILLARY. We are currently working on WY and MS– but need lots of people to cover PA. A small group of us started in OH and TX and had great success-SO PLEASE HELP US OUT if you can. Email me at spabeles@patriot.net for web addresses & to get started. Thanks guys.

  42. riverdaughter,

    I read once that you live in New Jersey, and you have family in Pennsylvania. I live in Los Angeles, and I’m going to volunteer to work in Pennsylvania the week before April 22nd.. My best friend lives in New York, and I’m thinking I’ll fly to New York to visit her, and then take a train to Penn. What city should I be going to? I don’t know Penn at all.

  43. Hi mathomas. I’ve never been to PA but did an internship in NYC for two summers. I’m thinking you should go to Philadelphia. I think it’s only several hours away from NYC and you can take a bus there. It’s also a large city where you can do some sightseeing and help Hillary’s campaign. She’ll probably need the most help there since Obama is targeting Philly and its suburbs. Have fun.

  44. Philly is an hour and 15 minutes from NYC by Amtrak Metroliner, a little longer on a train making local stops.

  45. Like Condi to Bush?

    Power was screwing Obama?

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