Adviser Who Insulted Clinton Has Role in Transition

Samantha Power, who resigned as senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama, is back on his team.
Samantha Power, who resigned as senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama, is back on his team. (By Sheila Griffin -- Associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 29, 2008

Samantha Power, the Harvard professor who was forced to resign from Barack Obama's presidential campaign last spring after calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "a monster," is now advising the president-elect on transition matters relating to the State Department -- which Clinton is slated to head.

Power is listed on Obama's transition Web site as part of the team reviewing national security agencies. Her duties, according to the site, will be to "ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in."

In short, she is part of a team that is likely to work directly with Clinton, a potentially awkward situation for the two women. Obama is expected to officially announce Clinton as his choice for secretary of state after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Transition officials declined to comment. A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to an e-mail sent yesterday evening. Power has been on the list of review team officials since mid-November; the Associated Press first called attention to her presence on the list yesterday.

But people close to the transition suggested too much was made of Power's comment at the time, and said that she has made moves to bury the hatchet with Clinton and that the senator accepted those efforts.

If so, that could pave the way for Power to reemerge as a key adviser for the new president after being barred for months from appearing on television as a foreign policy surrogate for Obama.

Power, who is close to Obama, resigned March 7 after being quoted in the Scotsman newspaper saying that Clinton "is a monster" and that "she is stooping to anything. . . . The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive."

The same day the comments were published, Power was forced to resign. In a statement at the time, she said she 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."

Then locked in a tight battle with Obama for the Democratic nomination, Clinton responded with a statement urging donors to contribute to show that "there is a price" for the kind of attack politics that Power's comment represented.

After leaving the campaign, Power remained active in the public debate. In an Aug. 13 article in the New York Review of Books, she argued that Obama had an opportunity this year to reverse the decades-long advantage that the Republican Party had with voters on national security and foreign policy issues.

"Although few have focused on this, the Democratic Party today is also in a strong position to show that it will be more reliable in keeping Americans safe during the twenty-first century," she wrote. "If the party succeeds in doing this, it will not only wake up the United States and the world from a long eight-year nightmare; it will also lay to rest the enduring myth that strong and wrong is preferable to smart and right."

Power was at one time considered a contender for a top post in an Obama administration. But her name has not surfaced recently, and she is not listed as a lead official on the State Department review team.

Obama officials have said the review teams will review agency policies, budgets and structures with an eye toward recommending to the new secretaries what is working and what is not.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company