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If you want to know how to get on in the Obama administration, consider the case of Samantha Power. With her husband, fellow Harvard lawyer Cass "Nudge" Sunstein, she is one half of a media don double act. Not yet 40, Dublin-born Power has built up an enviable public profile, using her experience as a reporter in the Balkans to become an academic expert on genocide, while impressing interviewers with her Amazonian looks and athletic prowess.

Most astutely, Power was among the first to hitch her wagon to the rising star of another Harvard lawyer, Barack Obama. Lunching in 2005 with the then unknown Illinois senator had changed her life, she later swooned. With Obama leading Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Power boasted of how Barack would text her.

Then disaster struck. In mid-campaign, Power took time off from her job to go on an ill-starred European book tour. "We f****d up in Ohio," she told a Scotsman reporter. "[Hillary] is a monster, too - that is off the record - she is stooping to anything." Quite apart from the dubious ethics of a Pulitzer Prize-winner seeking to withdraw a remark made on the record, her attempt to smear Clinton instantly rebounded. Power was fired. A year ago, her political career appeared to be over before it had really begun.

Obama's victory, however, allowed Power to make an improbable comeback. Monstering Hillary seems an unlikely qualification for a career as a White House foreign policy adviser. But no sooner had the new president appointed Clinton as his Secretary of State, than her bête noire re-emerged in a senior role at the National Security Council (NSC).

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