Former UN Ambassador (now National Security Advisor) Susan Rice was notorious for missing key debates and votes. Now her successor, Samantha Power, is following the same path, missing an urgent UN Security Council meeting on Syria because of a “personal trip” to Ireland that she refused to change. It is a blow to Power’s already-damaged record on genocide, and reflects Obama’s general indifference to governing.
Rice’s absenteeism was dismal, as she watched the clock at Turtle Bay in anticipation of being rewarded with the top job at Foggy Bottom (until her role in the Benghazi debacle derailed that ambition):
Rice has developed a reputation for failing to show up at work, even for critical votes. In 2009, she missed the vote on the anti-Israel Goldstone Report to tape an interview on the Jon Stewart Show. In 2011, she was absent from UN Security Council meetings on Libya, Haiti and Palestinian statehood. This past fall, she (and Obama) skipped an opportunity to meet with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Power’s absence is perhaps more significant, given that she built her reputation on criticizing Rice and others for their inaction during the Rwandan genocide, and now stands accused of her own inaction on Syria. The Assad regime–which the Obama administration attempted to rehabilitate as a “reformer,” during Power’s own service in the White House as a senior advisor on human rights–has just agreed to allow the UN to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use, but that is no thanks to Power’s non-efforts.
Over at Hot Air on Friday, Ed Morrissey speculated that Power may have intended her absence as a form of silent protest against the Obama administration’s passivity on the issue. It is a very interesting theory, and is perhaps a credit to the high regard in which Power is still held by serious-minded people, who assume that her prior work on human rights and genocide survives the Obama administration’s general neglect.
Unfortunately, that theory is undermined somewhat by the fact that Power took personal leave less than three weeks into her new job. What Ed Klein once wrote of Obama–that he shows little interest in actually being president, and more interest in “the narcissistic life of the presidency,” seems to run throughout the administration. Certainly Power is held back by Obama’s inertia–but she and others also enable it.