Skip to comments.Will Powell last Bush s term?
Posted on 07/25/2002 3:08:51 PM PDT by knighthawk
WASHINGTON: After a recent meeting, US Secretary of State Colin Powell was kidding around with the secretaries in the national security advisers White House office, complaining that their pretzel jar was empty. Then he said: Okay, thats enough. Ive got to get back to work now and by the way, Im not resigning.
The staff all took a slight, shallow breath and then broke up, a senior administration official recalled. But the question of Secretary Powells tenure is no laughing matter in Washington these days.
A string of internal policy differences and defeats most recently on West Asia and international family planning have set off speculation from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom that Secretary Powell might not last through President Bushs term. Tensions with the White House and Pentagon hawks that Powell has long sought to minimize are no longer possible to disguise.
In public, Powell, the four-star-general-turned-diplomat, has done what he always does: soldier on, shaping his commanders policies as best he can from within, with some success. In private, Powell, an amateur automotive mechanic, complains that old friends spend too much time sympathetically taking his temperature dip-sticking me, as he puts it.
As one of the worlds most admired celebrities for more than a decade, with approval ratings that rival President Bushs, Powell has special status and singular political value in a Republican administration supposedly eager to demonstrate its commitment to compassionate conservatism.
But almost from the beginning, he has found himself at odds with many of his more hard-line colleagues and the president himself on the handling of foreign policy, whether over Bushs rejection of the Kyoto treaty on global warming, the presidents lumping of Iran, Iraq and North Korea into a global axis of evil, or the presidents declaration last month that progress toward West Asia peace depended on Yasser Arafats replacement as Palestinian leader.
In each case, Powell has embraced the presidents position as his own, doing his best to justify the administrations view to often-critical allies around the world. Even when he has initially embraced a position at variance with the administrations ultimate policy regarding the international family planning issue, for example Powells sense of discipline, loyalty and discretion means that he never shows his true feelings publicly, according to aides and close friends.
Powells approach to almost all issues is pragmatic and nonideological. He is internationalist, multilateralist and moderate. He has supported abortion rights and affirmative action and is a Republican, many supporters say, in no small measure because Republican officials mentored and promoted him for years. (NYT News Service)
But Colin Powell's subsequent complete denial of this "story" was ignored by the media from Burbank to Bangkok.
The NY Times, however, wrote an article, citing people such as Richard Holbrooke (who would have likely had Powell's job if Gore had been elected) about the most intimate interactions between Bush and Powell, and even the inner thoughts in Powell's mind. How Richard Holbrooke could even pretend to have such knowledge is beyond me, yet the Times didn't care about that, and wrote an article about Powell's unhappiness with Bush based on Holbrooke's speculation.
As I said, I have no idea what Powell's intentions are. The difference between The NY Times and I, it that I don't pretend that I do.