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Colin Powell: The Most Misunderstood Man in Politics

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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.

 

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About Ink and Virtue

  • Glenn Contrarian

    You all know that I’m quite liberal on most subjects…but I would have voted for Powell over either Gore or Kerry. It says much about the Republican party when they would reject the sure victory that Powell would bring just to preserve their legitimacy to the Republican core…never mind that the Republican core is far to the right of Goldwater, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.

    Come to think of it, the Republican party may well now be to the right of McCarthy.

  • Baronius

    Powell supports bigger government and higher taxes (his words), he’s pro-choice, he supports affirmative action, he favored the closing of Guantanamo, and he voted against the most moderate Republican presidential candidate in thirty years. According to the popular internet square political quiz, he’s a moderate libertarian liberal, and that calculation was made back when he favored smaller government. Most telling, as you note, the GOP isn’t looking to him for leadership.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I speak as a left-leaning person here, and Baronius makes a good point. While we can’t know for whom Powell actually voted, the article misses the fact that he endorsed Barack Obama, a Democrat, at the last election.

    While many on the left would like to see him at the head of the Republican Party, it’s understandable that the GOP would want to shy away from becoming Democrats Lite.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    I speak as a left-leaning person here…

    I hope you aren’t going to turn into another one of those threatened-by-every-word, whiny, crybaby types who has to be handled with kid gloves, and runs away complaining that everyone is picking on them (or on everyone else).

    (just got an e-mail reply from a mutual acquaintance–annoyed)

    Grow up, get a spine, suck it up you left-leaning, insecure, little monkeys.

  • Baronius

    Dread, insightful as usual. Ink, what is your party affiliation, if you don’t mind?

  • zingzing

    baronius: “Dread, insightful as usual.”

    when he backs up your point.

    that said, i agree… (not so much with dread being “insightful as usual” :))))))))))))))))))))

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    42 mouths and still no time for a nose.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    No, I don’t agree with that bit, either, zing. I may have occasional flashes of brilliance, but it’s far from usual…

    Bar, I’m not a member of any political party, and in the US I’m not actually eligible to vote as I’m not a citizen. Back in the UK I usually vote for the centrist party, the Liberal Democrats, as unlike the other two major parties they don’t claim to have a monopoly on good ideas. This is something that is sadly lacking in American politics.

    I used to vote Conservative (I’m one of those rare birds who’s moved further to the left, rather than the right, as I’ve got older) and might be persuaded to again if they ever elected David Davies as leader.

    Sometimes I will go for a different party if their candidate seems to be the best person for the job. I’ve occasionally voted Green and backed Ken Livingstone for Mayor of London.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Funny comment about the mutual acquaintance, Cindy. I would have put a #, but I figure Truthsayer will reveal himself soon and get his comments scrubbed.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Sorry, Bar. I just noticed you weren’t asking that question of me.

  • Clavos

    42 mouths and still no time for a nose.

    ROFL!

  • Clavos

    I think she meant another, El B.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Oh, I know who she meant, Clav. I don’t think JOM the one who is sending her personal emails, is left-leaning, and certainly hasn’t run away.

    I meant if I put the comment # I was referring to, it would be soon incorrect, and it turns out I was right since we are now missing a comment.

    The comment eds should have a sit-in somewhere until the banning feature gets fixed.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    speaking of high school, it’s probably that long since I have seen someone so pathetic trying to hang out with a group who doesn’t want him around.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos-/ Christine

    Colin Powell is one of the most honorable politicians in recent history. I respect this man immensely!

  • pablo

    All you have to do to be a huge political icon in america is to murder over 200,000 Iraqi citizens as Powell did, and hey now you have a statesman!

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Hiya pablo. *waves to pablo*

    Good point!

  • Bliffle

    El Bicho notes (speaking of JOM):

    speaking of high school, it’s probably that long since I have seen someone so pathetic trying to hang out with a group who doesn’t want him around.

    Very good.

  • Tony

    I always really liked Powell but he deserves to not exist. He just had to go public, shaking his little vial for everyone to see , and regurgitating all of the administration’s lies about a threat that wasn’t. Like it or not, he has just as much American blood on his hands as GW, Cheney, and Rummy. He played the game, told the lies, and lost. Whether he believed the CIA, the Sec. Def. or whomever is inconsequential. Any idiot who pays even the smallest bit of attention to historical points like — I don’t know — the Cold Freakin’ War knows that the goal of a dictator is no amass power, wealth, and control, not bring about the Apocalypse. They leave that to the crazy Muslims that will be running Iraq soon. Sure Al-Quaeda us Sunni but they aren’t Saddam-like Sunni’s, or in other words Baathists (the socialists we always supported).

    When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Osama bin Laden offered to defend Saudi Arabia by sending “jihadist” warriors from Afghanistan to repel Saddam’s forces. After the Gulf War, bin Laden continued to criticize Saddam’s Ba’ath regime, emphasizing that Saddam could not be trusted. Bin Laden told his biographer that “the land of the Arab world, the land is like a mother, and Saddam Hussein is fucking his mother.”[42] Saddam Hussein was a Ba’athist, and Ba’athism is a movement which combines pan-Arab nationalism with secularism and Arab Socialism. It is therefore very much at odds with political Islamism.[43] The ideological founder of Ba’athism, Michel Aflaq, was himself a Christian.[44] (yeah from wiki, but whatever, there are sources and I’m lazy).

    If Powell couldn’t figure this out he does not belong anywhere near the government or the armed forces considering he was highly involved in the first Iraq War (Desert Storm) and should have known these truism intimately.

    Can anyone remind me why Bush didn’t invade Pakistan or North Korea again? All you hard-core neo-cons out there? Please? I mean that invasion and occupation wouldn’t have required Powell to shake anything bogus and both countries freely flaunt their nuclear capability and their willingness to turn that capability into weaponry. Could it be that WMD are, and always a have been, a deterrent, and that we never would have invaded a country that actually had them and started nuclear winter? Oh no, that couldn’t be it, right neo-cons?

  • Tony

    Also, I’m sure you fairy tail-loving Jesus freaks out there will ignore it but I find it so entertaining that the “ideological founder” of the Baathist was Christian.

    “A day will come when the nationalists will find themselves the only defenders of Islam. They will have to give a special meaning to it if they want the Arab nation to have a good reason for survival.” (In memory of the Arab Prophet, 1 April 1943)

    “The connection of Islam to Arabism is not, therefore, similar to that of any religion to any nationalism. The Arab Christians, when their nationalism is fully awakened and when they restore their genuine character, will recognize that Islam for them is nationalist education in which they have to be absorbed in order to understand and love it to the extent that they become concerned about Islam as about the most precious thing in their Arabism. If the actual reality is still far from this wish, the new generation of Arab Christians has a task which it should perform with daring and detachment, sacrificing for it their pride and benefits, for there is nothing that equals Arabism and the honor of belonging to it.” (In memory of the Arab Prophet -April, 1943)

    Excuse me now, I’ve got to say my prayers to Zeus and Ra. I like to keep it old school.

  • Ruvy

    Tony, when you get off your magic prayer rug, flying off to paga pagan land and return from Olympus (or the River Styx), can you give us poor readers a link to this essay you quote?