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July 07, 2007

Powell Power!

I agree with Ross that Colin Powell would make a formidable third-party candidate. One of the political peculiarities of the Iraq War was the habit of Democrats to increasingly associate themselves with Powell's views, particularly as expressed in the Bob Woodward books (remember the "Crate and Barrel" theory of Iraq?). Even as Powell used his awesome credibility to enable and accelerate the rush to war, esteem for his person remained oddly high, as Powell was cleaved into two separate beings: The "real" Powell, who was cautious and realist and wise; and the "soldier" Powell, who fell in behind George W. Bush because, well, that's what a good soldier does.

It's never been quite clear to me how you could separate the two, but in their rush to wrap their criticisms of the Iraq War in Powell's credibility, many Democrats ended up preserving the legacy of a man who was, aside from Bush and Cheney, arguably the most instrumental figure in pushing the country to war. It's hard to imagine Powell mounting a campaign for 2008, but were he so inclined -- and it could well have happened -- the Democrats' reliance on him would've proven troublesome indeed.

July 7, 2007 | Permalink


I don't see it.

Powell had his chance and he blew it. He remains popular, in large part, because nobody in the past 4 years has had a reason to take a swipe at him for his war positions. In a Presidential campaign, Powell'd get hammered.

The Bush dead-enders won't support the quisling. Those who freak out over a Hillary or Obama Presidency, likely wont see Powell as a savior. And anti-Iraq War Democrats who might've voted for Powell in 2000 would never do so in 2008.

Ultimately, Powell would only appeal to a select group of indepenents who (a) want to believe in the "real" Powell, (b) can irrationally ignore Powell's actual track record, (c) reflexively mistrust Democrats, and (d) are suckers for the superficial "manly" qualities of a man in uniform. Fortunately Chris Mattews and Tom Friedman only get one vote each.

Posted by: space | Jul 7, 2007 4:56:00 AM

Not to quibble, but it was the Pottery Barn rule. Which, like the justifications for the war itself, turned out to be completely fabricated. I can see how Crate & Barrel is much more apt, what with their focus on foreign imports and all.

Posted by: sangfroid826 | Jul 7, 2007 5:43:13 AM

I don't see it either. While his Powell Doctrine looks good now in light of Iraq, he has totally lost credibility here and abroad with the dishonest UN performance.

Posted by: bob h | Jul 7, 2007 7:02:37 AM

I am still mad at Powell for assisting in the cover up of atrocities in Vietnam.

Posted by: Tom Glen | Jul 7, 2007 7:57:05 AM

Powell's greatest strength as a candidate is that no one knew anythingabout him except he was a dignified, light skinned black guy who never talked about race and wore a uniform. That "advantage" simply vanishes when people start actually paying attention. Before the war he had gravitas, during the run up to the war he had the popularity that being on TV assures you do the dozing crowds, but now? In the middle of this cluster*&^ck? He'd have to answer the following question "what did you know and when did you know it" and he isn't prepared to answer that. He lost his moment and he knows it.


Posted by: aimai | Jul 7, 2007 8:15:07 AM

I'm with tom glen, fuck My Lai Powell.

Posted by: merlallen | Jul 7, 2007 8:26:06 AM

This may all seem very interesting, but there's virtually no chance of him running... so what's the issue, really?

Posted by: weboy | Jul 7, 2007 8:27:28 AM

the "soldier" Powell, who fell in behind George W. Bush because, well, that's what a good soldier does

No. Good soliders do not obey unlawful orders.

Posted by: rea | Jul 7, 2007 8:44:16 AM

I'm not really so sure about this. If the Democrats acte3d like the cowards they always are and refused to attack him, he'd have a decent chance. If Democrats aggressively went after him, He wouldn't stand much of a chance. There are too many hours of footage linking him to the war, and 20 years of positive impressions can easily be wiped out by 5 weeks of blanket advertising. The "soldier" frame might fly for policy wonks and capital hill romantics, but it'll fall real flat with most Americans.

Still, the Democrats are cowards who fret too much about destroying careers and holding the past against people. Give that, Powell would have a decent chance. Really, that's the only reasons Republicans have had any real chance for the past 20 years. We handed our party over to moderates, and moderates lack the passion to do what has to be done to win a modern campaign against people like the ones Republicans hire.

Posted by: soullite | Jul 7, 2007 10:41:34 AM

No, no, no, no, no way. Also, what Tom Glen and Maerlallen said.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Jul 7, 2007 12:30:22 PM

The idea of Powell as a third-party candidate misses the point of the original Powell bubble. The GOP theory was that if they could hold all of their existng voters, and then add in a significant number of African-Americans, they'd be unstoppable. Well, I don't see them even holding their black vote right now, and the whole thing falls apart when you put it in a third-party context.

(And, by the way, I'll believe that America will elect a black man President when I see Barack Obama taking the oath of office, and not one moment before. Yes, still.)

Posted by: DonBoy | Jul 7, 2007 1:07:48 PM

(Ahem.) He was born in Barbados. Not eligible to run unless we amend the Constitution.

Posted by: chimneyswift | Jul 7, 2007 1:25:36 PM

Chimney Swift:

No he wasn't:

Secretary Powell was born in New York City on April 5, 1937 and was raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. Secretary Powell was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College of New York (CCNY), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology. He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic achievements include a Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University.

I always nknew his parents came from Jamaica, but I never heard he was born in Barbados.

Posted by: Randy Paul | Jul 7, 2007 1:33:11 PM

So, are Democrats going to vote for him because they suddenly like the war, or are Republicans going to vote for him because they suddenly aren't all about grabbing power and now like black people?

Bloomberg has 100 times the chance, and Bloomberg doesn't have a chance.

Posted by: calling all toasters | Jul 7, 2007 6:39:31 PM

Bloomberg doesn't have a chance

ANYBODY who is willing to spend a billion dollars on a campaign has a chance.

Posted by: Jason G. | Jul 7, 2007 10:46:41 PM

ANYBODY who is willing to spend a billion dollars on a campaign has a chance....to spend a billion dollars on campaign, not to get elected. I do salute his one man "pump priming" mission for the nation's economy.

Posted by: Don | Jul 8, 2007 12:11:24 AM

There must be a special place in hell for the sort of dishonest, self-serving coward that Colin Powell is; and right next to him will be that other dishonest, lying enabler Tony Blair. And let us not forget Berlusconi whose Italian secret service cooked up the Niger forgery. If we ever got really decent governments, they would all be locked in prisons for decades.

Posted by: della Rovere | Jul 8, 2007 9:58:24 AM

Powell is a class A war criminal and needs to be tried and executed for his crimes against humanity and his complicity in the illegal invasion of Iraq and the murder of 1,000,000 Iraqis that have resulted.
He needs to do the spandau ballet.

Posted by: Aaron | Jul 9, 2007 12:10:44 AM

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