I have a confession to make, gentle readers. When any political candidate I prefer loses a lawfully conducted election, I lose my mind. I wail, rend my garments and gnash my teeth. I scream without restraint that the apocalypse is upon us. I rush outside and bark madly at the moon. I crank my hate meter up to “11.” I wear a pink pussy hat, dress up like a vagina and march about with others similarly afflicted, because what is more effective at persuading others of the righteousness of my cause—any cause—than that? I do everything I can to damage whoever was elected in the place of my preferred candidate, and oh yes, I constantly suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, which renders me all but incapable of functioning, except to wear pussy hats and dress like vaginas, scream obscenities and march about because TRUMP!
What’s that you say? I don’t do that? I’m talking about Leftists like Samantha Power, the former UN ambassador under Barack Obama? Really? Whew! No wonder I haven’t been a basket case all these years!
Susan Glasser of Politico published an interview with Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power on the 15th of January 2018. It is as revealing as it is jaw-dropping. Among the most amazing things about this is to recall that Rhodes was in large part in control of American foreign policy, despite have no qualifications or experience other than being a failed novelist, for the job. It’s also amazing to recall Power was intimately involved in betraying Israel and unlawfully unmasking Americans in the furtherance of domestic, political spying. Most of all, its extraordinary to realize these people, while they wielded enormous power in the application of America’s foreign policy and national security, lived–and still live–in an alternate reality, a reality having nothing to do with the reality we actually inhabit.
Glasser: Well, yes, actually, okay. So, Samantha, we might as well start with that, then, probably the most memorable scene to some people certainly—this incredible moment of election night in your big apartment in New York City, where you’re the ambassador to the United Nations. Tell us about that scene.
Power: Well, I’ve had a lot of bad ideas in my life, but none as immortalized as this one. I decided on election night to invite the 37 women ambassadors to the U.N., many of whom face struggles in their own foreign service, or at the U.N. of a kind that, as an American, I never did. And I thought what an amazing night for them. I mean, that’s what America represents to the world, when a glass ceiling is shattered in our country, it creates a whole new sense of possibility for people everywhere.
And so, I invited them. Most of them came, and we gathered with Madeleine Albright, our first woman secretary of state; Gloria Steinem, who is not only an icon here, of course, but all around the world, and we went through the same process, if you want to call it that, that so many people did at their election parties. As the host, I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t be quite the blowout that it was anticipated to be, because I wanted to make sure that people had a chance to interact with Gloria Steinem, and one of—
All the beautiful people—oops! Beautiful women, not beautiful people, women, were there. The elite, the anointed, relaxed and confident in the inevitability of their smug righteousness.
Glasser: So, your concern was that actually that the evening was going to be over early.
Power: Too soon. I wanted to milk the soft power dividend of this moment, and instead, and HBO was there, I guess unfortunately or fortunately, to capture it all, but instead, you really see what so many people went through, which was all of that sense of promise and excitement, and frankly, a dose of complacency. And then, it slowly dawning on us that not only was this going to be much closer than anybody anticipated, but that it was not going to end well.
And for me, every time I see that, I am haunted most, actually, by the images of my children, who were running around the apartment for much of the night, but when the election is called, my daughter, who at that time is four, is just lying in my lap, kind of like this pale, Irish statue, and there’s something about the way she’s lying, I don’t know, that just makes her look like she’s the one who’s going to inherit—
“The soft power dividend.” Unemployment, economic failure, Iran, Russia, China rampant and hostile, Iran and North Korea feverishly building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the Middle East in flames—that dividend?
Glasser: The image is extraordinary.
Power: She’s going to inherit this—what he does is on her, right? It’s like we’ve somehow collectively landed in this place, but the people who are going to feel this, and be affected by this are these innocents. And as it happens, I was looking at a young child, but there’s so many other innocents who are being subjected to the cruelty, as we speak here today.
But yes, I think that scene moves viewers the most because it triggers, I think, a kind of post-traumatic stress about their own election night experience, which mirrored mine—
“Post-traumatic stress.” She, and everyone that thinks like her, is suffering PTSD because someone she didn’t favor was elected in a lawfully conducted election? And what is this cruelty of which Power speaks, the cruelty to which little children are subject? A rapidly expanding economy, a smaller, far less intrusive government, an IRS and other governmental agencies no longer actively pursuing their political enemies, a Department of Education backing way from overweening and abusive federal control of education, a Department of Justice no longer falsely investigating or arresting people for political reasons, more money in people’s pockets due to lower taxes, our enemies fear us, our allies respect us and are paying their fair share of their own defense? Many of Israel’s traditional enemies are now allying themselves with Israel? The restoration of the rule of law and observance of the Constitution? That cruelty? No wonder Power is so stressed.
Glasser: …The story of your foreign policy accomplishments is still very much up in the air. So, a year later, how much do you feel like that picture is being filled in? Obviously, some of the things Trump said he would attack on the campaign trail, he has. He’s withdrawn from Paris, although we don’t exactly know what the long-term consequences are; withdrawn from TPP. He’s certainly not active on any of the issues that you really spent your time on at the United Nations. How do you each feel about where Obama’s record is right now?
Rhodes: I’d say two things. I mean, one is what Trump has done is in some ways not surprising. He’s partially rolled back Cuba, he’s pulled out of Paris, he’s threatened to kill the Iran deal but not done it. But what’s been worse to watch, I think, is underneath that, the hollowing out of the State Department, the defunding of all the types of programs that Samantha and I fought to get money for to help peacekeeping, or to help promote education around the world; the kind of unseen elements of American foreign policy that underpin the liberal international order, that’s where the year has been much worse than I imagined.
Note the underlying assumption that one can never reduce the number of federal employees, only increase them, and that any reduction is a disaster for world peace. Note also the idea of a “liberal international order,” which can refer only to a “progressive international order,” and not the actual definition of “liberal.” Rhodes is horrified because Mr. Trump is once again establishing American leadership in the world, which includes not paying for everything and not cowering in fear that the threats of tin pot tyrants.
I anticipated him taking aim at some of our legacy accomplishments, but it’s more this disavowal of an entire approach to the world — and it’s not just Obama, it’s fairly bipartisan over the decades. What I like about the film is, on the one hand, it’s hardest to watch the good moments, because I was very proud of Cuba, and it’s now sad to see that partially rolled back. But on the other hand, it does remind you in the long term, part of what we were doing is an approach to foreign policy, and that is an approach that can be returned to.
Barack Obama gave Cuba everything it wanted, including taxpayer dollars, and got nothing, absolutely nothing for America, and less than nothing for the fundamental human rights of Cubans. Rhodes does do a small service in reminding us that Leftists always take the long view. Any Republican president is merely a temporary tenant until the rightful, inevitable progressive arc of history is once again restored. And who would not want to return to the days of Barack Obama’s foreign policy? Who could resist that kind of progress?
And the Paris Accord is how the world is going to deal with climate change, and they can return to that. And Cuba, the embargo should be lifted, and the next president can do that. So, it does remind you that the pendulum can swing, and just as this year, the pendulum has swung incredibly dramatically away from what we did, seeing the other approach does remind you that beyond kind of the scorecard, and Paris, Cuba, TPP, Iran, there is an approach embedded in the film of just how to engage the world, and how to conduct diplomacy that is available as an option to return to.
Rhodes’ idea of diplomacy is obviously of the mistranslated “reset button,” “leading from behind,” “soft power,” eternally moving red line kind. Under his formulation, American diplomacy consists of giving our enemies whatever they want, including huge amounts of untraceable cash, shafting our allies, and insulting America and Americans at every opportunity. But don’t worry; those good old days will return.
Glasser: And to invest in diplomacy and international institutions.
Rhodes: Invest in diplomacy, yeah. Invest in alliances, and institutions, and spread it around, and spend seven years on an Iran deal so you don’t have to get into another war. And, so, the irony is that Trump has basically—well, first of all, he hasn’t done what he said he would do. Militarily, he’s escalated every conflict he was in. But even if you take that commonality, the America first approach if that is their organizing principle, is the opposite of where Barack Obama took that lesson.
Right. We must do everything possible, including allowing Iran to possess nuclear weapons, to avoid war. Escalation? Oh, Rhodes means our near complete destruction of ISIS. To people like him, destroying among the most depraved Islamist barbarians of any time would be a great tragedy and repudiation of Barack Obama. And of course, war must be avoided, regardless of the cost.
“Glasser: So, Trump would say, ‘Well, we’ve defeated ISIS in my presidency, and you guys were tied up in your own fights and didn’t do it.’
Power: We—when we articulated our plan to defeat ISIS, we were very clear on the timeframe, and it’s actually really remarkable—
Rhodes: Exactly on that timeline.
Power: Extent to which the timeframe has held—Ben was out in public struggling to defend. It’s very rare, right, that the United States—we never do that. We don’t come out and say, ‘We will win this, on this date.
Of course. The Obamites destroyed ISIS precisely on their timetable–except they didn’t. And what Mr. Obama actually did—frequently—was tell our enemies what we would not do, and when we would be leaving. Combined with half-hearted military action hindered by leftist lawyers, the Obamites won nothing and left the world a far more dangerous, debased place. Their policies cost innumerable lives, destroyed nations and damaged America’s standing in the world.
The level of delusion and self-justification in evidence in the interview is extraordinary. Apparently Power has no close friends that would feel a need to say: “Samantha, you shouldn’t talk about things like that party; you’ll look demented.” But on the other hand, that’s how these people think and what they do. Judging only by this interview, we’ll likely never know the full extent of the damage the Obamites did, even as we have a glimpse at their limitless—and delusional—self-regard. We can, however, be glad Hillary Clinton is not president, and that people like Power and Rhodes aren’t whispering in her ear. All they can do now is try to convince others their reality is the only reality.