Cut Samantha Power a break

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Samantha Power makes me acutely aware of my shortcomings.

Unless you travel in certain hifalutin circles, you probably never gave her much thought or notice until this month. She’s a journalist/academic/human-rights activist who is one of the world’s leading thinkers on genocide. She’s one of Barack Obama’s senior foreign policy advisers. Did I mention she has a column in my magazine? She’s accomplished all this by 37, which is the age I’m turning next week. Also she has really great hair.

The reason you came to know of her recently may have to do with her first real public gaffe. It was a whopper: in an interview with a Scottish newspaper, she called her boss’s rival, Hillary Clinton, a “monster.” (Here’s the original article in The Scotsman, which leads subtly into the interview with this headline: “‘Hillary Clinton’s a monster’: Obama aide blurts out attack in Scotsman interview.”)

Though the quote was clearly off the record—the article even quotes her saying, “that is off the record”—the resulting storm forced her into a swift public apology and resignation from the Obama campaign. In recent days, Power has emerged again—because, as the gods of timing would have it, she’s just published a book and she’s got to flog it. I bet her publicists are smacking their lips, delighted at all the free press; booking Power will now seem like a “get” worthy of prime time instead of the obligatory morning show interview-with-a-smart-person slot.

I say, cut the lady a break. I admit I’m not given to sympathizing with privileged, overeducated people with great access to power, particulary when they also have pretty hair. But she’s too smart to toss out with the bath water. Plus she’s a chick, and I admit I am given to admiring broads who tread where few of us get to go.

Here’s Power last night on the Colbert Report: