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Dissing the Alamo (National Review columnist says Powell Should be Fired)
National Review Online ^ | David Frum

Posted on 11/18/2002 7:57:30 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest

NOV. 18, 2002: DISSING THE ALAMO Powell Disses the Alamo: Colin Powell should have been fired yesterday – literally. The Washington Post yesterday posted its first excerpt from Bob Woodward’s new book, Bush at War. Like Woodward’s book on the Gulf War, The Commanders, Bush at War is essentially an edited transcript of Powell leaks, all of them calculated to injure this administration and undermine its policies on the very eve of military action against Iraq.

For more than a year, we’ve been reading nasty little stories in the papers about Karl Rove, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld and condescending stories about President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. Careful readers have understood that these stories emanated from the State Department – but until now, Powell has taken care to protect his personal deniability. Now he has abandoned that polite pretense.

In the Woodward piece, Powell scorns the president for his “Texas, Alamo macho.” (I guess Powell thinks Col. Travis should have negotiated.) Powell complains with Senate Democrats that acting against Iraq “would suck the oxygen” out of the anti-terror campaign. He denigrates Rice, snidely observing that “she had had difficulties” keeping up with what Bush was doing. When the president over-rules him, Powell complains that he thought he had a “deal” – as if cabinet members bargain with their president rather than taking orders from him. Powell repeatedly praises himself or repeats the praise of others: We learn from him about a personal call from Rice in which she compliments one of his presentations as “terrific,” and we hear via Woodward that Powell is “smooth, upbeat ... eloquent.” Amazingly, Powell even manages to insert into this long uncontrolled soliloquy of accusation against his colleagues a complaint that they sometimes leak against him!

“[Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage] had heard from reliable media contacts that a barrage was being unloaded on Powell. ... The White House was going to trim Powell’s sails; he was going to fail. Armitage said he couldn’t verify who was leaking this, but he had names of senior people in Defense and in Cheney’s office. ‘That’s unbelievable!’ Powell said.”

There is no sin in a cabinet officer dissenting from the policies of his president. Nor is it necessarily wrong for him to take his dissent to the country. But before he makes his dissent public, he should resign – and if he won’t resign, he should be sacked. Instead of representing the United States to the world, Powell sees his job as representing the world to the United States. It’s time for him to go.

Homeland Security: My wife and I took the Acela train from Washington to New York City on Sunday morning. My wife, who is not quite so convinced of her personal invulnerability as I am, was more than a little disturbed by the total absence of any security procedures. The conductors barely glanced at our tickets; they never asked for any ID – this on the very first weekend after the FBI announced the threat of massive imminent attacks on American transportation network and national symbols.

But then, maybe the Amtrack conducts knew what they were doing. Whatever country Amtrak is a symbol of – it ain’t America. Brazil maybe.

Single Payer, Part Deux: Friday’s post on the merits and demerits of single-payer health systems like Canada’s provoked an avalanche of e-mail – far too many to respond to each individually. I’m truly sorry about that. I’m sorry too about the typographical errors in the post, which concerned a number of the e-mailers: I write these diary entries very late at night or very early in the morning, and my fingers do sometimes stumble.

Let me try here to reply to the main criticisms I received.

1. My friends over at the New Republic point out that Canada spends only about 9% of its GDP on healthcare as against America’s 14%. The long delays in treatment that Canadians suffer can therefore be blamed – not on the system itself – but on Canada’s failure to fund the system adequately.

This line of defense is often heard in Canada itself. I sometimes think that the words, “We need more government funding,” should appear on Canada’s coins in the spot where the words “E Pluribus Unum” appear on America’s. Here’s the answer.

a) The gap between America’s spending on patient treatment and Canada’s is not as big as the raw percentages might suggest. For example, America’s 14% figure includes the cost of the vast American medical research program. The budget of the National Institutes of Health alone - $27 billion in fiscal 2003 – is larger than the total healthcare expenditures of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec combined. (The provinces are the main funders of Canadian healthcare; Ontario and Quebec are the two biggest provinces, home between them to more than half of Canada’s population.) Canada does little medical research. In healthcare as in defense, Canada piggybacks for free on America’s costly efforts.

b) Much of the differential between the cost of the Canadian and American systems is achieved by the brutal squeezing of the incomes of doctors and nurses. While this may have some impact on staff morale and may contribute to a reduction in the skill level of medical staff, it has little relevance to the issue of waiting times.

c) The Canadian population is demographically different from America’s in important ways. The average age of the Canadian population is lower than that of the United States. There is less obesity in Canada, fewer premature births, fewer victims of assault and attempted homicide. Canadians also drive fewer miles per year than Americans. These differences impose costs on the United States that the Canadian system does not bear. Even under exactly identical health-care policy regimes, one would expect health-care expenditure in the United States to be significantly higher than in Canada.

d) Advocates of single payer often cite Canada’s lower expenditure on healthcare as an argument in favor of the Canadian system. Then, when confronted with the evidence of the Canadian system’s failure, they admit that America’s 14% is not all frittered away on advertising and obscene HMO profits – that it does indeed buy superior care. But if the American system is not riddled with waste that single-payer will squeeze out, then extending a single-payer system to cover the entire U.S. population will be just as hugely expensive as conservative critics fear.

2. Many readers have pointed to Canada’s high average life expectancy as proof that its healthcare system can’t be all bad. But (see point c above) there’s much more to public health than a healthcare system. Hike cigarette taxes and life expectancy will rise, no matter how lousy the hospitals are. The test of a healthcare system is not life expectancy of the population as a whole – it’s the life expectancy of people once they get sick. Here Canada’s record is not so good.

3. Some cosmopolitan readers note that other single-payer systems, Germany’s usually, deliver more satisfactory results than do Canada’s and Britain’s. That’s true – precisely because the German system is much more decentralized and offers more choice (and demands more responsibility) than do Canadian Medicare or Britain’s NHS. Some socialized healthcare systems are more socialized than others, and the more socialized they are, the worse they do.

4. Yes, yes, yes, America’s healthcare system is flawed. It’s overly litigious, it discourages people from changing jobs, it is often wasteful, and it abandons too many people to charity medicine. Yes, yes, yes, America’s healthcare system – which probably should not be called a “system” at all – is in need of reform. The question is not, “Is America perfect?” The question is, “Would single-payer be an improvement?” And the answer to that question – despite Al Gore – is no, no, no.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
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To: Cicero
You are correct. The Washington Post, particularly Dana Milbank and Bob Woodward, and the New York Times, led by the odious Adam Nigourney, Adam Clymer, and R.W. Apple, have been working overtime to cause President Bush to either fire Powell or have Powell quit in a snit. They believe this will allow them to start the "racism" rant again, which is pretty hard for them to gin up right now.

The excerpts I have seen of this book indicate that Woodward has put his own thoughts in the heads of Powell, Rice, et al. It is not believable.

For example, I cannot envision President Bush waving his finger in the air and saying he "loathes" Kim Il Jong. Loathe isn't eactly a West Texas word.

Woodward was given access to write a series on the immediate aftermath of 9'11, which was very complimentary. Obviously, pressures at Simon and Schuster, the newspaper, and the press corps in general have caused him to embellish this series into a book with some digs and attampt to cause a division in the administration.

It is beyond foolish when conservative pundits allow those such as Woodward to push their buttons and cause them to rant in public. It feeds the influence of the liberal media and allows them to think that they are calling the shots. It also wastes the time of the administration having to answer questions about these silly stories.

21 posted on 11/18/2002 8:26:09 AM PST by Miss Marple
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To: Common Tator
National Review has always been clueless.

Are you really sure you want to say that? As you know, NR was founded by William F. Buckley, who singlehandedly did more to revive the conservative movement than any other living American.

22 posted on 11/18/2002 8:26:19 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Why are they even talking to the leech named Woodward?
23 posted on 11/18/2002 8:26:57 AM PST by dennisw
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To: HairOfTheDog
The role of the Secretary of State is to carry out the foreign policy of the United States as established by the President. It is not to be a "good cop" if that is not what the President wants him to be.

W is too gracious and too smart to criticize Powell publicly. But I believe that behind the scenes Powell's second-guessing is a source of frustration and anger.
24 posted on 11/18/2002 8:29:01 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: Behind Liberal Lines; Snow Bunny; CCWoody
Powell is an American hero, right or wrong, and a black American hero in a Republican administration.

But anyone who denigrates the Alamo by using an Alamo reference just to denigrate a Texan, especially his own POTUS, is not sufficiently thoughtful in his role as a Secretary of State (or even as JCS Chairman).

Powell is just trying to insinuate that our POTUS is not sufficiently thoughtful to be a good POTUS. But I frankly suspect that President Bush is more thoughtful than Powell realizes.

(And I say that as someone who doesn't agree with Bush on some matters. I think he has some blind spots. But I still respect him more than Powell seems to respect him.)

Again, I think Powell is the one who is not being thoughtful enough. The Alamo was a bigger deal than Powell realizes. And it really is part of being a Texan, even if Powell doesn't get it. It is a conscious ideal of courage among Texans, not just a matter of an unsupported Texas machismo.

My bottom-line point is that we are not all Audie Murphys down here in Texas, but Colin Powell is certainly no Audie Murphy.

25 posted on 11/18/2002 8:30:06 AM PST by the_doc
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Firing Powell.....Ummm
All the "Powell's just a house nigger" people
will have to start their
"Powels being picked on as a minority" mantra.

The whores that they are..

26 posted on 11/18/2002 8:31:09 AM PST by hosepipe
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
It is not to be a "good cop" if that is not what the President wants him to be.

I think the president is a big boy that doesn't need you thinking for him. He has said he is happy with Colin Powell, and I respect them both.

Good grief find someone on the other team to attack. It would get us further.

27 posted on 11/18/2002 8:32:13 AM PST by HairOfTheDog
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To: Miss Marple
I cannot envision President Bush waving his finger in the air and saying he "loathes" Kim Il Jong. Loathe isn't eactly a West Texas word.

True. Inside sources report that W's actual words were: "I harbor an aversion to Kim Il Jong to the point of abhorrence."

28 posted on 11/18/2002 8:32:50 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
National Review also supports legalization of marijuana.

It is possible for a magazine to be both conservative and clueless. Clueless means gullible and naive, which are two of the characteristics I see in this colummn.

Do you not understand that Powell is an excellent Secretary of State? Not only has he successfully negotiated the Security Council UNANIMOUS decision, but he also got Musharraf on board early on, which contributed to the success of the Afghanistan campaign. He has managed to weave a good delaying tactic in the Palestinian crisis, which has allowed Israel to continue to hunt down terorists. In addition, he has managed to get a huge coalition working with us on the war on terror. The man travels constantly, dows NOT undermine our foreign policy, and does exactly what the president wants.

All of the carping about Powell is ususally from unnamed sources (no doubt State Department Clintonista career types) and should be ignored.

Cite evidence that Powell undermines our foreign policy. I bet if you go back and look at the articles you will find they are either from the Post or the NY Times.

29 posted on 11/18/2002 8:33:46 AM PST by Miss Marple
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To: Behind Liberal Lines; Snow Bunny; CCWoody
I should add that I don't necessarily agree that Powell should be fired. But I am agreeing with the NRO columnist that Powell's attitude is rather seriously deranged. And we need to be careful as to how far we trust Powell.

My point is that if real heroism is required at high levels of government in our current mess, I would expect it to come from our National Guard POTUS, not from our ex-JCS statesman.

30 posted on 11/18/2002 8:36:05 AM PST by the_doc
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To: Miss Marple; Common Tator
You know how I figured this was a crock?

Powell, both Colin and Alma, are good friends of Rice. Alma Powell came from the same Black Birmingham social set that the Rice's circulated in, with young Condi in tow. They are close friends.

Powell would not put down Condi like this. It's not in him.

That's how I can tell that this book is a lie.

Be Seeing You,


31 posted on 11/18/2002 8:44:50 AM PST by section9
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Please see my #25 and #30.
32 posted on 11/18/2002 8:45:43 AM PST by the_doc
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To: governsleastgovernsbest; Common Tator
A pox on both Woodward and Colin Powell.

If it weren't for Powell, we would not still be dealing with Saddam Hussein. Let's not forget who stopped the pursuit of the fleeing Iraqi troops out of Kuwait

Swartzcoff (sic) wanted to take the war to Bagdad and finish off Saddam.

Thanks to Powell, we didn't. So let's not talk about how much testosterone he has.
33 posted on 11/18/2002 8:51:29 AM PST by FBD
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To: SrBahamonde
34 posted on 11/18/2002 8:52:26 AM PST by oline
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Next to Chrissie Whitman who is totally devoid of any positive attributes, except possibly, Mr. Eisenberg's moneybags, Powell was clealy Bush's WORST choice.

He is a dangerous, subversive, self-serving, treacherous, backstabbing, vile fifth columnist.
35 posted on 11/18/2002 8:52:33 AM PST by ZULU
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Drudge played the audio tape W did use the word "loathe"...
36 posted on 11/18/2002 8:54:20 AM PST by oline
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To: the_doc; Dems_R_Losers; governsleastgovernsbest
I was watching Fox News yesterday morning while I was fixing 12 quarts of stew for a late lunch after church. It was not the right thing to do. When the part about this new book was being discussed it really irritated me. I came close to slicing my finger a time or two.

I agree with you that Powell just doesn't get it. At one point in the program, it was brought up that Powell felt like the odd man out (between himself, Rumsfeld & Bush). With comments like that it is no wonder that he feels that way.
37 posted on 11/18/2002 8:56:13 AM PST by CCWoody
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To: Miss Marple
I respect you too much to want to engage in a major argument over this. As for evidence of Powell undermining the President in this and former administrations, though, please have a look at this, from the conservative think tank Center for Security Policy:

Now, it's true that on the specific issue discussed in the article, inspections in Iraq, the Bush administration eventually changed its position. But the article details a number of ways in which Powell has been out of step.
38 posted on 11/18/2002 8:56:20 AM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Are you really sure you want to say that? As you know, NR was founded by William F. Buckley

There are two things you know about any man who uses his middle initial in his name. First he deep down thinks he is inferior. He must use an initial to stand out. Secondly he thinks the people he is trying to impress with look up to a middle initial.

Would it imrpress you if I became Common F. Tator?

A person who tries to impress others with the size of his vocabulary does not think his thoughs will impress. He believes himself to be so inferior that he must impress with the size of his vocabulary and not the power of his thoughts.

All William F. Buckley has ever done is try to take credit for being the brilliant thinker behind the revival of the Republican party. He is not. He impressess the unknowing, ignorant and less bright. He does not impress much of anyone else.

There is a reason the Leftist dominated Public TV carried William F. Buckley's Firing Line. If Willian F. Buckley could not convince the viewing public that Republicans are self important pompous a$$es no one could.

39 posted on 11/18/2002 8:59:38 AM PST by Common Tator
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To: Formerly Brainwashed Democrat
Swartzcoff (sic) wanted to take the war to Bagdad and finish off Saddam.

He is also strongly against a new war on Iraq.

40 posted on 11/18/2002 8:59:53 AM PST by Zviadist
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