Power Outage

No sooner did the Clinton campaign demand Samantha Power’s resignation for calling Clinton a “monster” than she submitted it.

“I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign,” Power said in a statement.  

Power, a top foreign-policy adviser to Obama, originally told  the Scotsman newspaper that Clinton “is a monster, too—that is off the record—she is stooping to anything.” Apparently she and the paper had different definitions of “off the record.” She later apologized , declaring her admiration for Hillary Clinton. But for the Clinton campaign, that wasn’t enough—a surrogate called the decision of whether to keep Power around “a test of character” for Obama. Presumably he has passed the test.

The resignation matters symbolically, but that’s about it. Power has  called herself an “informal adviser” to Obama, and she wasn’t exactly part of the regular campaign entourage. (She did travel with the campaign in Iowa and South Carolina.) Her stepping down doesn’t mean she and Obama can’t talk. It just means they can’t appear together in public. Plus, keep in mind that Obama has already rolled out his major foreign-policy initiatives. Power could have been useful given Clinton’s latest attempts to bring Afghanistan front and center, but again, this is a resignation—not a restraining order.

Yet again we see how Obama’s talk about a “new kind of politics” opens him up to charges of “same old, same old.” Power’s words were nasty, sure, but hardly as offensive as Bill Shaheen and Bob Johnson’s winking hints about Obama’s cocaine use. Their charges had political weight, whereas Clinton was never, in fact, a giant, rampaging Cloverfield -style she-beast. But because Obama has sold himself as Mr. Clean, his opponents can point to any dirt as evidence of hypocrisy.

At the very least, Power’s transgression—coupled with Susan Rice’s recent slip-up and the Austan Goolsbee flap —will make the Obama campaign more careful about which surrogates they put out front.

Click here for Part 2 of the Samantha Power saga.