Colin Powell recently spoke to ABC News and defended W’s authorization of the warrantless wiretapping. He didn’t completely back the administration, but he said just enough to make us feel a little better.
Bring back some memories?
It’s interesting that none of the major political pundits have attributed the President’s 2005 slide to the massive figure who had left the building.
Even after the Iraq has weapons UN speech, Colin Powell was by far the most popular and trusted person associated with the Bush administration and that popularity easily stretched across the aisle.
A scandal would emerge, the microphones would be shoved into Powell’s face, and he would assure us that all was fine. And that always seemed to cool things off. It wasn’t that he always agreed with the neocons and other nuts. But he gave the public a sense that, yeah, these guys are qualified for the job and are not completely out of control.
This year, there was no Powell and things were anything but fine. The President suffered a dramatic drop in the polls. Was the slide due only to Powell’s absence? Of course not. This was a rough year for W. But many of the areas where he received criticism (Iraq, for instance) really weren’t all that difference from years past.
And do you really think the adminstration would’ve taken the same hit on Katrina had Powell been by the President’s side in the New Orleans?
In the same ABC interview, Powell split from Bush on the Iraq sans WMDs question: “You have a far more difficult case, and I’m not sure you can make the case in the absence of those stockpiles.” These differences of opinion (and Powell’s reasoned thinking) are why Powell had to go. But his departure has greatly hurt the Bush team. Powell out of spotlight created a vacuum that has been filled by the likes of Rove and Libby and that’s bad for PR.
Colin Powell served as protective shield during W’s first term. His absence left Team Bush completely unprotected in ways they hadn’t anticipated and they, like many of us, now understand the unique sway that Powell holds in the mind of the public (even after the administration did everything they could to hamstring him).
All this is why the internal power players on Bush team now, at least on some level, understand all too well why Colin Powell is the Person of the Year.