The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, September 03, 2002  

Apparently, Anything Less Than Perfection

"Secretary of State Colin Powell has been a good soldier in public, even as he has had to fight for every small victory against Administration hawks like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld," writes Massimo Calabresi in Time magazine ("Colin Powell: Planning for an Exit," carried on's web site).

However "sources close to Powell," Calabresi reports, say his departure plans are firm: "[H]e will step down at the end of President [George] Bush's current term."

According to these sources, Powell will remain on the job at Foggy Bottom until such time even if the U.S. pursues a military invasion into or attack on Iraq, a strategy the secretary is widely reported to oppose.

And yet, Time reports, an odd caveat is attached to Powell's "firm" departure plans: "If Bush wins a second term, only the imminence of a major diplomatic victory -- in the Middle East, for example -- could induce him to stay a short while longer." [Emphasis added.]

That must mean the prospects for anything less -- ranging from an imminent though minor diplomatic victory to an looming geo-political meltdown -- as of January 2005 will be insufficient reason for Powell to finish the tasks before him and instead will send the Secretary of State fleeing for safer and saner pastures.

What does this say about President Bush and his administration?

It's just par for the course, one would suspect. This is, after all, the modus operandi of the Bush family: As long as things work according to the grand plan, hang around and pick up the spoils, but make a mess and someone else -- daddy, mommy, the maid, Jimmy Baker, Karen Hughes, Jack Welch, who have you -- will eventually clean it up. It's okay, just run along and play, boys.

More important, what does this say about Powell?

Those Americans, no matter their political inclinations, who were expecting something just a little bit better from the Secretary of State have good reason to be very disappointed.

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