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Colin Powell Wraps it Up
February 19, 2002
by birdman

It's truly enjoyable watching the right wing deal with Colin Powell. They hate him. I mean they absolutely despise the man. And it's not because he's black. In fact that's the only thing they can stomach about the General. Make no mistake the Republican Party loves having a handsome, well spoken, widely admired black man to show off. But what drives the wingnuts crazy about Powell is that he simply refuses to buy the whole package. He won't disavow affirmative action and he won't try to tell the rest of us that a two cell zygote has rights that supercede those of grown woman.

Black republicans like Clarence Thomas, Alan Keyes and Armstrong Williams are expected to follow the entire "guns and fetuses" program to be accepted - but not the General. And there's nothing the GOP can do about it because they need Powell a lot more than Powell needs them.

Powell is the only part of the pro-choice wing of the party that the Republicans would ever allow to address their convention and actually talk about abortion. They have no choice. They want Powell to speak because of his stature and popularity and more than anything else (although they will never admit this) because he's black and can deflect the perception that the party has become a refuge for the segregationist Falwells and Helms and Thurmonds. For precisely those reasons Powell can say what he wants and the party leaders have to put up with it.

One of the ways that the Republicans tried to deflect attention from the fact that their 2000 Presidential candidate thought that Greeks were called Grecians and that the Taliban was a rock band was to point to Colin Powell and assure the public that the sure-handed General would be in charge of foreign policy although Powell never openly committed to working for Bush. In fact during the Florida recount frenzy the Bushies sought a public relations coup by bringing Powell down to Bush's ranch to showcase him as their new Secretary of State.

But after meeting with Bush and Cheney Powell would only say that he was willing to talk about working in a possible Bush administration and then drove the right totally berserk by saying that he would entertain the idea of a job in a Gore administration as well. The nutballs fumed and griped and muttered but he's Powell and he could do what he wanted.

More recently Powell infuriated the right by letting it be known that he thought the Guantanamo prisoners should be treated in accordance with the Geneva convention flying directly in the face of Bush policy. There was all of the usual carping from the usual suspects but in the end the Bushies did it Powell's way.

Then last week Powell appeared on a MTV youth forum. Before the event there was already griping on the right. Michelle Malkin, a dark haired amalgam of Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly huffed that Powell's appearance would be "sandwiched somewhere in between Britney Spears' videos, Trojan condom ads, booze-drenched Mardi Gras parties, soft-porn soap operas, and reruns of vulgar stunt shows." Well can you even imagine a greater cesspool of depravity for a Republican to enter into? But the General is tough, and he entered into this den of (gasp) sexually-active young rock fans.

While no one asked if he preferred military boxers or diplomatic briefs late in the show he was asked by a 19 year old Italian participant what he thought of the Catholic position on condoms. Powell responded that in his view "condoms are a way to prevent infection. Therefore, I not only support their use, I encourage their use among people who are sexually active and need to protect themselves."

Well this was the last straw. He doesn't worship fetuses, wants evildoers treated humanely and now he's morphed into Joycelyn Elders in fatigues. Gary Bauer, the nerdy "pro-family" guy who's made a career out reminding everybody of the weird kid in high school that you just knew was never, ever going to get laid, was apoplectic that Powell didn't tell the girl to just say no. The General, he said, should stick to diplomacy and follow the administration policy on unmarried coupling (it's bad, bad, bad!). Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council (did you ever notice how the word "family" has been hijacked by the extreme religious right?) said that Powell was irresponsible and his words were a "slap in the face" to Bush's core constituency.

Ari Fleischer, trying to insinuate that the General was really on the "keepeth thy pants on" side after all uttered one of his most inane statements (even by Ari's less than lofty standards), stating that "Colin Powell takes a back seat to no one on abstinence."

But the General isn't apologizing or retracting or clarifying. He meant what he said and unlike others in the administration he doesn't have to cater to the abstinence crowd. He's Powell; they can whine all they want but they can't touch him.

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