Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power 'Pulling Back the Curtain' on Life in Public Service

Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power
September 10, 2019

For U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power has gone head-to-head with some of the world's most powerful people and tells Cheddar that her new memoir is an effort to inspire others who want to help, but don't know where to start.

The longtime Democrat writes about her career as a war journalist and activist who ended up serving in the White House, advising President Obama on foreign policy matters and human rights in her new memoir The Education of an Idealist.

"I'm a woman who tried to balance raising two kids with a 24-7 national security job — that's a story that's not often told," she told Cheddar Tuesday. "So by pulling back the curtain at a time when, unfortunately, we have a president who's attacking public servants often, I wanted to show the meaning, the sense of purpose, the integrity and the results that you can have in jobs like the ones I was privileged to have."

Specifically, she credits former President Barack Obama for helping her succeed, not just by naming her as UN ambassador, but for the guidance and support he offered her both publicly and privately. "The portrait of him that emerges [in the book] is a very human one, a behind-the-scenes portrait, which I hope people gravitate toward," she said. "People see him as this iconic figure, but he's a man and a friend — and somebody who helped set me up with my husband too, I should say."

Power also talked to Cheddar about National Security Adviser John Bolton's departure from the White House, which was announced earlier in the day Tuesday. Like Power, Bolton previously served as UN Ambassador. She noted that Bolton was the fourth National Security Adviser to serve in the Trump administration — a lot, she said, for a president who has been in office for less than three years.

"[National Security Adviser] is such an important job. It is the person who brings our military officials, our intelligence officials, our trade and our treasury officials, our diplomats together to come up with a coherent policy to implement the president's design," said Power, who served as a former member of Obama's National Security Council.

"We need there to be a process where voices are heard, where dissent is heard," Power told Cheddar regarding Bolton's departure. "But every time you dissent in this White House, you're out."

The departure itself left Americans scratching their heads, as President Trump announced on Twitter that he had let Bolton go, but Bolton quickly tweeted that he had offered to resign.

"Even the circumstances around Bolton's departure are contested with Bolton saying 'no, I resigned' and Trump saying 'I fired him,' and people around the world just don't know what to believe any more, they don't know who to believe," Power said regarding the chaos. "And they know that very little of what the president says is true and that makes it very hard for us to get what we want in terms of our international objectives."

Power also shared her thoughts on some of the top 2020 candidates. In her book she writes about former Vice President Joe Biden, someone she worked with during her time in the Obama administration. She recalled his warmth and called him a "deeply empathetic person," recalling that he has been known to give his personal phone number to people he has met along the way who may need someone to talk to.