Samantha Power Reinvents Obama's Record on Russia

By all means, let's have a debate about the dangers of American presidents and their administrations purveying "alternative facts." But could the members of the media most ostentatiously seething over President Trump -- and now busy presenting their own alternative facts -- please spare us the pretense that the White House is suddenly in danger of losing its credibility. What's left to lose? We've just had eight years of the Obama administration beaming out  alternative facts "narratives" to the mascot-media echo chamber, on the theory that saying something makes it so ("If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"; Iran's "exclusively peaceful" nuclear program; the Benghazi "video"; etc.).

It is Trump's job to reverse this rot, not to adapt Obama's fiction techniques to suit himself. But if anyone's curious about the kind of fakery that Trump and his team should strive to avoid -- in the interest of integrity and good policy -- Obama's former ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has just given us a showcase example. In her farewell speech as UN ambassador, delivered Jan. 17 to the Atlantic Council, Power conjured an entire alternate universe, less by way of presenting alternative facts than by omitting a number of vital facts altogether. The result was to erase from the picture some of the most disastrous failures of the Obama administration, while insinuating that Trump is already complicit in the resulting mess.

Let me stipulate that Power did issue a warning that is valid, important, and urgent. Her topic, as she explained at the start of her speech, was "a major threat facing our great nation: Russia."

Yep, no question about that. Vladimir Putin's Russia is a growing threat, as some of us have been arguing for more than a decade.

But it was on Obama's watch that Russia became a mushrooming threat to a degree that even Obama and his team could not in the end ignore -- welcoming Edward Snowden, snatching Crimea from Ukraine, moving back into the Middle East, backing the Assad regime and bombing in Syria, hacking hither and yon, and frustrating Power at the UN with its veto on the Security Council.

It was Obama himself, with his policy of "engagement," who helped lay the groundwork for this rising threat -- deferring to dictators, betraying allies, downsizing the U.S. military, and sneering at those who warned there would be hell to pay. Putin drew the logical conclusions, read this U.S. retreat as an invitation, and made his moves. One might have supposed that after years of Obama apologizing for America, Samantha Power in her swan-song lecture could have summoned the strength of character to apologize for Obama, and for her own role, as one of his top envoys. (Don't hold your breath).