Ron Rosenbaum

Why Would Samantha Power use That Word About Hillary? Hint...

…I’ve come to believe it had nothing with her distortion of Obama’s NAFTA position.

I admit I’d been caught up in the minutiae of journalistic protocol, the retroactive off the record. I’ve actually shifted my opposition somewhat on this issue influenced by the writing students I taught at Columbia, NYU and The University of Chicago. A vocal faction of them rejected gotcha journalistic techniques .Hurting someone unnecessarily just because they could, according to oh so pure “journalistic rules”. The precise off-the-record rules were not laid out so the reporter went with her big scoop. And I can see her justification. Those are the ground rules. Power was in public life. She should have known. But she slipped.

There’s a case to be made that the interviewer could for instance have said “Powers can’t stand Hillary” for x, y and z reasons, rather than use the word “monster”, which Power clearly wanted back. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t believe it.

But then why? Why the extreme choice of that word.

I can think of one theory. Samantha Power wrote an important book about the evolution of 20th century genocide–A Problem From Hell— and the attempts to stop it.

Hillary has been boasting that she”s been in on all the big foreign policy decisions of the Clinton era.

One of the big decisions was to fail to make a serious effort, much less a humanitarian intervention to stop the genocide in Rwanda in which upward of 700,000 were slaughtered. While the Clintons stood by. Maybe intervention would have backfired. But there are certainly 700,000 who will never know.

Maybe Hillary argued forcefully for intervention and lost. Then we should hear from her about it. On the other hand maybe Samantha Power believes something different about Hillary’s role. Maybe Hillary argued for inaction for standing by while 700.000 were slaughtered. Or maybe she said nothing at all. Samantha Power should let us know what she feels, whether that’s behind “monster.”

That’s what we should be talking about. that’s what reporters should be digging into: what is Hillary’s attitude toward the “Problem From Hell”. What did she do then? What would she do now?

Obama’s campaign shouldn’t have fired Samantha Power. They should have said she was an expert on genocide, and that actions count for more than words and that calling someone a “monster” is not the same as allowing bloodthirsty monsters to have their way. Ask Hillary to spell out just what powerful “experience” she got from that particular genocide. And how she’d react in future. Then she’d know what so-called “tough” questions from the press are like.