Samantha Power UN Ambassador: Is She Too Fiery to Be Obama's UN Ambassador?
Given the blatantly antagonistic Obama decision to name Susan Rice as national security advisor, it seems reasonable to expect Republicans to try to block the nomination of Samantha Power to the post of ambassador to the UN. Interestingly, Power has made a number of enemies in her own party. Most memorably, Power described Hillary Clinton as a "monster" during the 2008 Democratic primary. Power somewhat lamely tried to pass off these comments as "off the record" before apologizing profusely and resigning her position in the Obama campaign. In fact, it was the mess stemming from this gaffe that prevented Power from receiving an appointment during the first Obama term. Clinton and Power were reconciled by mutual friend Richard Holbrooke, but there is undoubtedly some residual bitterness from that primary fight.
In addition to her anti-Clinton missteps, Power departs from the dovish orthodoxy of most liberal foreign policy. Her most famous work is a strong defense of military intervention to stop human rights atrocities. While many liberals are sympathetic to aiding the oppressed peoples of foreign countries, they question the wisdom of direct, military intervention. Given the current crisis in Syria, Power's hawkish beliefs may draw negative attention from some members of Congress.
For Republicans, the Power nomination encapsulates a number of perceived flaws in the personality and policy positions of the Obama administration. In terms of policy, Power has made a number of controversial statements on Israel. Power seems not only to provide weak support for Israel, but even suggests that the U.S. should employ the military to promote Palestinian interests. This will undoubtedly incense Republicans. Power's views on how to handle Syria also seem somewhat opposed to the current track pursued by Secretary of State John Kerry and will raise questions about apparent rudderlessness of team Obama's foreign policy.
Perhaps more concerning than her at times outlandish thoughts on policy is Power's background. Power is yet another Obama henchman who seems to have obtained her position more through friendship than talent. Besides lathering praise on, and working for, Obama's 2008 presidential run, Power offered to leave Harvard and work for Obama when he was just a senator. She also is a member of a sect within the administration that is extremely attached to their Irish connections. This group, including Vice President Biden and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough have only added to the frat-like atmosphere that seems to be taking over the executive branch. Increasingly, the administration seems to be retreating to a small group of elite friends to the detriment of collecting diverse viewpoints or engaging conflict on policy positions.
While Republicans may be uncomfortable with this nomination, they must tread carefully to avoid appearing mean-spirited. As a party that is struggling with women voters, torpedoing Power so soon after Rice while allowing Secretary Kerry to cruise through may draw criticism. Such critique would be unfair, but par for the course in D.C.'s current political climate. Republicans may just have to accept the indignation of this nomination and try to minimize the damage Power can do in her new role.