Obama's U.N. pick Power not always diplomatic

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 5, 2013 12:07pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama (R), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (C) and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Memorial for United Nations staff killed in Iraq, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City, in this photograph provided by the White House taken on September 23, 2009 and received by Reuters on June 5, 2013. Obama on Wednesday named Rice as his new White House national security adviser. To replace Rice, Obama will nominate Power. REUTERS/Pete Souza/The White House/Handout

U.S. President Barack Obama (R), U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice (C) and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Memorial for United Nations staff killed in Iraq, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City, in this photograph provided by the White House taken on September 23, 2009 and received by Reuters on June 5, 2013. Obama on Wednesday named Rice as his new White House national security adviser. To replace Rice, Obama will nominate Power.

Credit: Reuters/Pete Souza/The White House/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has selected as his nominee for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and academic who in 2008 called Hillary Clinton - at the time a political rival of Obama - "a monster."

The White House is due to name Samantha Power to replace current ambassador Susan Rice, who Obama plans to nominate on Wednesday as his national security adviser.

Power, a former White House aide and Harvard professor, is a strong advocate for human rights at a time when the Obama administration is grappling with its response to the civil war in Syria as well as human rights issues in countries such as China and Sudan.

Power caused a stir during the tense contest between Obama and Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2008 election. She was serving as an adviser to Obama at the time.

"She is a monster, too - that is off the record - she is stooping to anything," Power was quoted as telling The Scotsman, a British newspaper, referring to Clinton.

"But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive," Power was quoted as saying.

The remarks prompted her resignation from Obama's campaign team. Obama edged Clinton for the Democratic nomination, won election that November and named Clinton as his top diplomat, a post she held until earlier this year.

The "monster" comment illustrates the close scrutiny that Power's discretion and diplomatic skill will face as the U.S. envoy to the world's leading diplomatic body. It also underscores the power of words for an accomplished former writer who has made other offhand comments likely to draw a second look from critics.

Republicans in the Senate, which must approve her nomination, are likely to give her a rough confirmation hearing.

If confirmed, Power's return to government service would be a comeback after having left the White House earlier this year as senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the national security staff.

While that job was relatively low profile, Power was widely reported to have argued for the U.S. decision to intervene militarily in 2011 to support the rebels who eventually toppled long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

No stranger to the power of words, her earlier work as a journalist sent her covering the Balkan wars of the 1990s and conflicts in other countries such as Rwanda, according to her biography on the White House website.

She later won the Pulitzer Prize for her book "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," a study of U.S. policy responses to genocide during the 20th century.

Power is married to legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who until last year headed the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He was a friend of Obama dating back to their days on the University of Chicago Law School faculty.

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, Patricia Zengerle and Susan Heavey in Washington, and Michelle Nichols in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Comments (3)
USAPragmatist wrote:
Uh Oh , a woman that is willing to start her opinion, the GOP is not going to like this.

Jun 05, 2013 11:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
speaker12 wrote:
No American with a brain is going to like this appointment. Obama, you just don’t know what you are doing. Go play golf.

Jun 05, 2013 11:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
usagadfly wrote:
While the comment about Clinton was outspoken, it was accurate.

But she seems to have an affinity for wars and interventions that runs counter to decades of American failures. It is perfectly clear that US involvement in Libya was a mistake, just like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. For those unable to grasp that, I suggest you look at the history of an American victory — the last one being World War II. That is not an encouraging record.

The people want no more wars except after formal declarations of war against an existing nation state that physically and directly attacks US territory. If you want to run a police force, go elsewhere and the sooner the better! Choosing enemies based on the hats they wear is beyond ridicule.

Jun 05, 2013 6:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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