11/17/2004: Thought for the Day:
And so the other shoe has dropped on the sad career of Colin Powell. Here is a man who enjoyed the most appealing life story in American politics. The son of Jamaican immigrants who pulled up his own boot straps in the Bronx; a Vietnam vet who rose through the Army's ranks to general, national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of state; a proud black man who could have made a serious run for president under either party's banner—chewed up and spit out on the shard-strewn sidewalk of Losers' Boulevard.
Powell's "resignation" this morning was one of the surest bets of a second Bush term. He had long endured a string of humiliating defeats at the hand of his Pentagon rival Donald Rumsfeld. For well over a year now, he's been out of the loop on every high-profile issue of foreign policy—Iraq, Iran, North Korea, nuclear arms control, Middle East peace talks.
In recent months, he's been hammering his own coffin, making little effort to hide his displeasure while serving a president who famously demands loyalty. On the record, Powell has told reporters that the insurgency in Iraq has grown stronger and that he might not have supported the war if he'd known Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. On background, he and his closest aides have vented their frustrations and criticisms more harshly, most notably (but by no means exclusively) in his old friend Bob Woodward's latest book.
At the same time, Powell associated himself with Bush's policies just enough to incur the wrath of Democrats. The key incident was his Feb. 5, 2003, briefing before the U.N. Security Council, where he made a strong case for the existence of Iraqi WMD—and thus for war. It was a war that, many knew, Powell privately opposed; it was a briefing that, later evidence revealed, was almost entirely false. The upshot was the wreckage of Powell's reputation. The Democrats could no longer trust him; the administration rewarded him, for his troubles, with nothing but further disdain.
Len on 11.17.04 @ 05:59 AM CST