The Smartest Woman in America?

In our March issue, MC profiled Samantha Power, Barack Obama's Pulitzer-winning Harvard professor of a foreign policy adviser, or, as we called her, "The Smartest Woman in America." As the editor of the section (and a Clinton supporter), I'm chafing at that headline today.

Power was quoted in a Scottish paper — and subsequently every other news outlet on the planet — as calling Hillary a "monster" for her campaign's attacks on Barack. Today, while the blogosphere debated whether the reporter should have published comments that were arguably off the record, the campaign announced Power's resignation.

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Those of us who are paid to choose our words carefully — be they politicians' advisers or the writers who entrap them — know that "monster" is about a hair away from "bitch." It essentially means the recipient of the slur is ambitious, which in women remains a character flaw. Power's comment lumps Hillary with Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Judith Regan, Martha Stewart, and all the other shrill she-devils who dared to grow lady-balls and fight for their due. As Power herself has done — a young woman at an old university, teaching foreign affairs and government to people who will one day lead nations. She's a rock star academic, a brilliant policy thinker, a girl who busted into the boys' club, and I admire her.

But for someone so smart, she can be really dumb.

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