Powell Unleashes Preemptive Strike
Satire by Randolph Lewis
In the past week, a great deal of controversy has stemmed
from what I said, or did not say, to the journalist Bob Woodward
in preparation for his book, Plan of Attack.
Let me be frank. It is frustrating for a public figure such
as myself to have his carefully chosen words turned upside-down
in the national media. In the past several days, I have had
to put aside the important duties of Secretary of State and
devote myself entirely to clearing up misperceptions about
what I said to Mr. Woodward regarding Iraq and other matters.
It has been an unpleasant, but necessary, task in the service
of the truth.
Unfortunately, in the past 24 hours, the twisting of my
words for political gain has continued in a new context, namely,
in regard to my unfinished memoir entitled The Price of
Silence: My Agonizing Years in the Bush White House. Even
though the memoir will not be published for another seven
months (fingers crossed!), extended portions of the manuscript
have already been leaked to the press, and once again I am
seeing my words spun in circles for the amusement of overpaid
For this reason, I feel it is necessary for me to "preemptively
strike" against journalistic distortions of what I have
written. By offering the following points of clarification,
I hope that American readers will know exactly where I stand
on some of the most important issues of our difficult times:
• On page 443 of The Price of Silence, I describe
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "a two-bit Nosferatu
in Armani… a serpent-tongued charlatan… a beady-eyed flying
monkey in the service of short-sighted warmongers and their
greasy-palmed lobbyists." Much to my chagrin, these words
have been taken out of context. What I meant to describe in
this passage is my outstanding working relationship with the
Secretary of Defense and my great respect for his service
to the current administration. That should be clear.
• On page 856, I write that, "Having been kept out
of the loop during the planning for war in Iraq, I found myself
deeply humiliated by a gang of bloodthirsty desk-jockeys unfit
to even clean the valves on my Volvo." Once again, journalists
have forsaken the truth and chosen instead to contort my words
to their own sensationalist ends. In the passage above, I
was simply pointing out that I was an integral part of the
war planning process, and that I valued the input of the Pentagon's
• On page 121, and again on pages 368 and 792, I describe
the President as "a simpering fool who would need a Powerpoint
presentation just to blow his nose, and whose idea of foreign
policy is to wonder aloud, 'Why don't them French chicks shave
their pits?'" This passage has found its way onto public
via the internet, where it has been distorted in ways I could
never have imagined. Naturally, I have no reason to impugn
the intelligence and worldliness that this President displays
as leader of the free world, and only a rank partisan could
see anything but praise in what I wrote.
• One page 398, I set down some words which have caused
a stir on the internet: "Over the past several months,
the ever-alluring Conde Rice has once again been 'making eyes'
at me during Cabinet meetings. I made it clear to her that
our love had fallen from bloom and that no amount of note-passing
and 'footsie' could restore the erotic vigor that it had once
known at the back of Air Force One." Again to my frustration,
this passage has been grossly misunderstood by members of
elite national media, and by my wife. I was simply describing
a normal working relationship between two dedicated professionals,
nothing more or less.
I sincerely hope these clarifications will put the mind
of the American public at rest. It will be a sad day, indeed,
when our national leaders speak out of both sides of their
mouths whenever it suits political expediency.
Randolph Lewis is an Associate Professor in the Honors
College at the University of Oklahoma and a Contributing Writer
to The Brooklyn Rail. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.