Sunday, October 28, 2012

Change Of Heart

One person said all of the following about Colin Powell (h/t* to Max Bergmann and Brad DeLong):

after Powell's selection as Secretary of State, on NBC Nightly News on 12/15/00:   "I'm exuberant over the prospect of his [Colin Powell] stewardship of American foreign policy. There's a lot of very dangerous places in the world due to the fecklessness of the Clinton administration"; and the following day on the same program:  "I think his credentials and his charisma will have a significant effect, a beneficial effect, on the conduct of American foreign policy."

when asked for an assessment of the General (I think) on CNBC on 4/20/04:  "Well, Colin Powell's one of the most honest men that I've ever known and I admire and respect him enormously, and so obviously I'd take his word for it." 

upon Powell's departure from State, to the New York Times on 11/15/04:  "When he took the helm at the State Department nearly four years ago, I was confident that Secretary Powell would lead with honor and distinction.   I have not been disappointed."

upon being asked about torture on CBS on 3/9/08: "I don't know the answer to that. I think one of the failures maybe was not to listen more to our military leadership, including people like General Colin Powell, on this issue."

upon being asked on MSNBC's Hardball on 4/23/03 whether President Bush was "blessed" to have Powell working for him:  "I think the president is blessed to have two extremely talented people (Powell and Rumsfeld), experienced people, working for him, and others, but particularly those two."

upon being asked by the Times on 7/13/08 about the U.S. response to genocide: "We have to have effective ways of addressing genocide. I know what you are leading to and that is Darfur, where Colin Powell, a man who I admire as much as any man in the world, person in the world, declared genocide in Darfur several years ago." 

Who is that masked man?  Last Thursday, he reacted to the endorsement by Colin Powell of President Obama for re-election by saying on the (Brian) Kilmeade and Friends radio program "General Powell, you disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime.”   The following day, he wrote “it was Colin Powell,with his testimony before the U.N. Security Council, that go us into Iraq.

If John McCain didn't exist, he'd have to be invented. It's never easy to predict how the consistently mercurial Arizona senator will react to anything.  In 2004 he would have taken Colin Powell's word for just about anything and admired him more than almost anyone else in the world, and now he's an apologist for fecklessness.

But give McCain credit for boldness, if nothing else.   In 2008, he was the lone presidential candidate of a major political party willing to accept public financing, and has been probably the leading senate supporter of campaign finance reform.   After recklessly placing a demagogue from Alaska on his ticket, he corrected a campaign supporter when she called Barack Obama "a Muslim," which, compared to the pandering and cowardice of the current GOP nominee, stands out as an act of remarkable political courage.

But criticizing a man who wears the uniform, anyone whose first name is "General," is a risky proposition with little political upside.  Just ask MoveON, which was roundly condemned for its largely accurate ad criticizing General David Petraeus, then in charge of the U.S. war effort in Iraq. Two years later Petraeus was appointed top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, after which the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated.    Now General Petraeus inarguably remains one of the most admired individuals in the nation, and General Powell is not far behind.    John McCain, bless his heart, is one of the most entertainingly impulsive.

*pretentious term used by bloggers for "hat tip"

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