Colin Powell is in an interesting individual: a paradox. On the one hand, Powell still wields some political interest in the eyes of the American people, but on the other, this interest isn’t legitimate power. Powell is, at least right now, a fascination. Remember those days when he was General Powell? Back then, he had a uniform, a mission, and an intelligence that few could rival. But even more important was that qualifier, General. When he became the 65th Secretary of State in January of 2001, Colin Powell was beloved by many simply because, in contrast to the vapid Madeline Albright, he brought back to the White House the American Hero. He certainly brought in a breath of fresh air after Albright’s largely sophistic reign. But it was exactly that heroic trait, to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, that would catalyze his undoing.
You see, he did a very dangerous thing, something most in Washington avoid as they do mirrors: he told the truth. Because he unleashed said truth without first running it through the White House spin team, he left a chasm of political debris akin to that of the hole in the center of Manhattan. His admonitions to the Bush administration in general, and in regard to the CIA’s intelligence reports specifically, created a maelstrom of discontinuity between what the American people were being told and what was actually the truth. Here we had our American Hero telling us that perhaps we were acting in haste, that perhaps we ought to really scrutinize the intelligence data that had been received thus far, and furthermore, scrutinize the CIA itself — and the American people were starting to agree with him!
These are is not the actions of a political automaton, but those of one whose achievements were won in the field of reality, of life. Colin Powell’s integrity was not born out of cloak-and-dagger negotiations through the labyrinth that is political ideology. Colin Powell is nothing, if not a man who is intellectually curious and possesses the rare talent of bringing to fruition that which he has conceived. It’s one thing to marvel at or criticize the newest widget, but quite another to render it, with your own masterstroke, obsolete. Colin Powell saw that the current widget, however hard-won, was not only obsolete, but fundamentally flawed; thereby poisoning anything and everything which followed its trajectory. So he did what any gifted thinker would do, he began to study its flaws by demanding, first and foremost, the academic freedom within which to work.
And, in the true spirit of politics, after his dissertation on the war, Colin Powell was swiftly ushered off the stage. Now he is reemerging, along with Dick Cheney. Unfortunately, Powell lacks Cheney’s political clout. Of course, it shouldn’t be this way. The sensible person still holds fast to the belief that the best man should win. But in our country, it seems that isn’t the case. I believe that the reason the GOP, which is in desperate need of a leader, is purposely overlooking Powell is because, unlike his competition (Dick Cheney, and, like it or not, Rush Limbaugh), Powell is both a fighter and a thinker, and he runs circles around Cheney on both fronts, while Limbaugh can’t even make it into the arena.
While I agree with CNN’s Roland S. Martin’s assertion that
It would be a hell of a thing to witness Powell take his stature and considerable influence and band together with other liberal-to-moderate Republicans to create an organization that represents their values and vision.
I’m not as optimistic that Powell will find anyone with whom to form an alliance due to the fact that “other liberal-to-moderate Republicans” are still, fundamentally, politicians. However, Martin’s assertion that
Powell must go beyond commenting on the state of the party and what it needs, and work to help rebuild, reshape and revitalize the GOP in the form he thinks is appropriate for the 21st century.
completely misses who this man, Colin Powell, really is. What Martin means by “work[ing] to help rebuild, reshape and revitalize the GOP” is a euphemism for being a politician. That is, Martin suggests that Powell become more of a political thinker and less of an intellectual. To assert this about Powell is to completely misunderstand the man. The bottom line is this: the GOP can either get its collective head out of its collective ass and embrace all that is Colin Powell, or they can continue to run on politics-as-usual. The former would rebuild the GOP into a powerhouse that could, with just a glance in the direction of the democrats and their liberal ideology of political correctness and anti-intellectualism, turn it to dust; while the latter is gorging on sweets and expecting nourishment.