Powell Wraps it Up
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
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
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
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
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.