Roger L. Simon

Samantha Power, Iraq and Two Lying Candidates

Trapped on Virgin America from NY to LA for some five hours last night, I had the opportunity to do something I might not normally – watch Samantha Power’s interview with the BBC in its entirety. It had already been announced that the Pulitzer Prize winner was resigning her position with the Obama campaign, so I was surprised to see it still playing on the plane’s satellite TV, but there it was. (You can find it here.)

Power came off to me as a young woman quite full of herself and overly impressed with her own closeness to and influence on Obama. But perhaps I was reacting to the news I read elsewhere that the candidate text messages her (or did) in the middle of the night for foreign policy advice. What’s most interesting to me, however, is how Power characterized Obama’s approach to Iraq, which seems conspicuously different from his public statements. Apparently Mr. Obama’s vaunted 16-month withdrawal plan is only a “best-case scenario.” Well, there are plenty of those, as in the Dow will go up 2000 points next week or gas will drop to $1.75 a gallon by Thursday. What Power was clearly admitting, assuming she is correct, is that Obama–that lord of “new politics” and scourge of the “special interests”–has been conning the anti-war throngs. Maybe Rezko isn’t such an aberration.

When confronted with this hypocrisy, Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe pointed to Hillary Clinton as being equally hypocritical on the issue. MSNBC’s First Read wades into this mess as follows:

On Obama’s 16-month Iraq withdrawal plan, Power told BBC that it was a “best-case scenario,” that nothing firm could be decided in March 2008 without seeing the situation on the ground in Jan. 2009 and that “He will, of course, not rely on some plan that he‚Äôs crafted as a presidential candidate or a U.S. Senator.” When asked about it, Plouffe defended Obama’s plan and deflected by pointing to retired Gen. Jack Keane’s comments on Clinton’s own intentions on withdrawing troops from Iraq.

“He did not believe that she will pursue a quick withdrawal,” Plouffe said of Keane, who he said Clinton has developed a “close relationship” with.

Kean told the New York Sun this past weekend: “I have no doubts whatsoever that if she were president in January ’09 she would not act irresponsibly and issue orders to conduct an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, regardless of the consequences, and squander the gains that have been made.”

He also said Clinton “generally supported the surge strategy in the sense she wanted it to succeed but she was skeptical about its chances.”

As far as I can recall, we have had not one single moment of honesty from either Clinton or Obama on this issue – the most important of our times – throughout these entire months of debates. What pathetic phonies.