“Senior advisor to Barack Obama calls Clinton ‘monster.’ More details coming up.”
“Wonder who that was,” I thought aloud as I took my first sip of coffee for the day.
The newscaster, back from the break, rattled on. “Samantha Power, senior foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign, told a Scottish newspaper Clinton was a ‘monster,’ and then immediately attempted to retract the statement, telling the reporter her knee-jerk remark was off the record.”
Oh, Samantha, how well we thought we knew ye.
To be honest, I don’t care that Power called Clinton a monster. Was it emotional, reactionary, and indicative of poor restraint? Yes.
Was it crass? Yes.
Was it true? Depends on your opinion, which doesn’t much matter.
Is Power, a champion of human dignity, is a hypocrite? No.
What I think is that Power in an intelligent, passionate, intensely feeling person who understands that the world’s troubles aren’t some sort of abstraction, but are urgent matters that call for our attention. A journalist herself, I think Power made the mistake of trusting her interviewer too much.
And I think Gerri Peev, the interviewer, is a provocateur who either didn’t realize the damage that the leak of Power’s remark could cause across the pond. Either that or she didn’t care, which seems to be the more likely of the two possibilities. In her article, Peev wrote that Power’s remark reflected “the [Obama] camp’s true feelings about the former first lady.”
Why do we expect of other people that which we ourselves are incapable of? The notion that foreign policy advisors, professors, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors and, yes, even presidential candidates, don’t have feelings and opinions is preposterous. The idea that they won’t, in moments of frustration and fatigue, demonstrate poor impulse control and reveal those feelings, is unreasonable. The expectation that as far back as kindergarten public officials should have a blemish-free record– that everyone they’ve ever known will only ever have good things to say about them– is more than we hope even for ourselves. That’s why we want it from them.
Samantha Power is human. Is that such a big surprise?
We expect far too much from one another in the wrong ways.
And far too little in the right ones.