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Samantha Power takes a breather

By Laurie Bennett

February 17, 2013 at 2:24pm

Less than a month ago, when American Prospect assembled a “fantasy cabinet” for President Obama’s second term, it named Samantha Power as an ideal choice for secretary of State.

In real life, Power is ending her tenure with the Obama administration, stepping down as director for multilateral affairs with the president’s National Security Council.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Power was leaving to spend more time with her family,” noting that the phrase appeared to be true for once. She has two young children, ages 8 months and 3.

Samantha Power
Samantha Power

Power reportedly had been a top pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, if Susan Rice had left to head State. But, of course, that didn’t happen.

A former professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Power wrote a biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN high commissioner for human rights who was killed in a Baghdad hotel bombing in 2003. She won a Pulitzer for an earlier book, “A Problem from Hell,” which examined the American response (or lack of) to genocide.

An early adviser to Obama, she was on the fast track until she made the mistake of describing Hillary Rodham Clinton as a “monster.” The remark, made to a Scottish newspaper, led to her resigning from the 2008 Obama campaign.

Not surprisingly, she did not join State after Clinton took over in 2009. She did, however, rejoin Obama, working on his transition team before joining the security council.

Power has been described as both “the foremost voice for human rights within the White House” and the “the femme fatale of the humanitarian assistance world.”

Her husband, former White House regulations chief Cass Sunstein, left the administration last year to teach at Harvard Law School.

Power’s departure is expected to be temporary.

“While she is likely to return to the administration, no decisions have been made on her next steps,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told Foreign Policy.

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