You'd say I'm putting you on
May 4, 2004 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Now GQ magazine isn't one I'd normally turn to—for anything, really, let alone a serious story such as this. But a writer has interviewed Colin Powell, Condi Rice, various Pentagon insiders and some unnamed friends of Powell, and they all (save Condi, whom one of the GQ writer's sources calls "a jerk") agree: Colin's tired.
posted by emelenjr (18 comments total)
I had come to see Powell because, for several weeks, his closest friends and colleagues had been telegraphing a story to me. Powell was finished, they'd said. Exhausted. Frustrated. Bitter. He was uncomfortable with the president's agenda and fatigued from his battles with the Pentagon. His reputation had been stained by his speech at the U.N. in February 2003, when he insisted that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and as the journalist Bob Woodward has noted in Plan of Attack, he was despondent about being cut out of the war plan in Iraq. In the months since those humiliations, as the body count mounted and the WMDs never appeared, his enthusiasm for the job had waned. His enthusiasm for the whole administration had waned.

Nothing to see here. Powell's obviously just another un-American, traitororous, Bush-basher.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:42 PM on May 4, 2004

My favorite quote:
I can tell you firsthand that there is a tremendous barrier between Cheney and Powell, and there has been for a long time. It's like McCain saying that his relations with the president are 'congenial,' meaning McCain doesn't tell the president to go fuck himself every time."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:43 PM on May 4, 2004

Didn't the first stories that Powell was about to quit surface something like three years ago?
posted by obfusciatrist at 4:59 PM on May 4, 2004

I remember some rumblings about that.
I think what's most interesting is that the interviews were on the record. The article states that Powell was briefed on what his friends and colleagues had said about him in preceding interviews before the writer got to Powell, and Powell apparently didn't use his hour to refute anything anyone else might have suggested.
posted by emelenjr at 5:06 PM on May 4, 2004

In what would become the lowest point of his career, an event that will taint his legacy forever, that will be written into his obituary one day, Colin Powell leaned forward in his chair at the General Assembly on February 5, 2003, with the world listening—and listening precisely because it was he, not some old hawk like Don Rumsfeld or some ideologue like Paul Wolfowitz but Colin Powell, a man whose word actually meant something—sitting there in front of those preposterous PowerPoint presentations and blurry satellite images, he raised his voice in outrage and said things that simply were not true...

It's sad--as the author says, this is a man that would have been elected president just a few years ago, i bet. So many of us Dems liked him, and saw him as a moderate voice of reason. I don't know if he's tired of having to carry water for Bush for so long, or if saying, "you break it; you bought it" was just too much for him.
posted by amberglow at 5:15 PM on May 4, 2004

I haven't gotten to the part in Woodward's book yet, so I can't cite it from there, but I remember from one of the WaPo excerpts about how someone explained to Woodward that Powell's moderate reputation was precisely why he was the one who made the presentation. I think it was Karen Hughes' advice, but I may be mistaken. If the public heard the dire news from someone who was known to be in favor of diplomacy over war, they'd be more likely to go along with it. Makes sense from a strategic point of view, but it's sad that such a manipulative move had to even be considered.

Full disclosure: a friend of mine knows the GQ writer, though I didn't learn of this connection until after I found the link to the GQ story on Drudge.
posted by emelenjr at 5:24 PM on May 4, 2004

consider also that Powell is dealing with serious health problems. he has many reasons to feel bad -- and frankly I'd care more about beating cancer than being loyal to the Bush team, too

a man that would have been elected president just a few years ago
a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action African American? I just don't see him winning those all-important Southern primaries and getting the Republican nomination (the South loves the military? yes, but ask McCain how well things went in the South). and when Powell repeteadly embarrassed the fuck out of Clinton he gave up all chances of running as a Democrat, btw

Powell's always been great at defending himself and advancing his career, since VietNam days -- and as an exit strategy, the "the bad bad Bushies fed poor little me bullshit evidence" thing will probably work fine, or anyway good enough to secure him nice speaking engagements in the lecture circuit. you know, second-tier colleges and motivational speeches on "leadership" to soda-industry and insurance people at Vegas conventions.

also, fun stuff from the archives (year 2000):
Will There Be a Democrat in the Bush Cabinet?
posted by matteo at 5:29 PM on May 4, 2004

Powell is dealing with serious health problems.

Prostate cancer, if un-screened for and untreated is serious. It doesn't sound serious in his case. And I believe the 'radiation seed' procedures are on a out-paticent basis.

When Bush gets term #2, hopefully Powell will be on the lecture circuit. doing second-tier colleges and motivational speeches so he'll be clear of the impeachment of GWB. And here on metafilter, people will be comparing the action of the Nixon staffers VS what these same staffers did in term #2 of GWB.

(There. Some more wood(ward) for the flames)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:51 PM on May 4, 2004

Powell, as I recall, would have won the presidency handlily had he run, according to all the polls taken up to the point at which he said he was not interested in running. He had great GOP support and many Democrats as well as a good deal of the independents.
posted by Postroad at 6:00 PM on May 4, 2004

It doesn't sound serious in his case

it's always bad. always. maybe not immediately life-threatening in his case (I wish him well), but serious it is. and since his "Adlai moment" turned into a terrible humiliation and he has no chance in hell to remain onboard for a second term (almost nobody does, the only exception that comes to mind is Rusk), he's better off going home and taking care of his health
posted by matteo at 6:02 PM on May 4, 2004

Posty, don't look at those old national polls. he had to win the nomination first. locally, state by state. where often Democrats and Independents can't vote in a GOP primary.
and he couldn't have won the nomination without the South.
those old polls where mostly TIME/NEWSWEEK "let's-hope-he-runs it's-a-great-story" vaporware
posted by matteo at 6:04 PM on May 4, 2004

Associated Press picks up the ball.
posted by emelenjr at 7:50 PM on May 4, 2004

I just want to know when Powell's going to publish his McNamara-esque mea culpa.

Sometime before November would be nice.
posted by mediareport at 8:58 PM on May 4, 2004

You gotta feel bad for the guy, he's pretty much stuck in the Vietnam of jobs at this point -- he can't win, he can't lose, he can't even quit the game...

If he does pack up and go the Karl Rove-led team of White House plumbers will do a job on his reputation -- they unfailingly have with Wilson, O'Neill, Clarke and Beers.
posted by clevershark at 11:32 PM on May 4, 2004

Remember Fliescher? He got out apparently unscathed...
posted by namespan at 1:11 AM on May 5, 2004

Poor Colin Powell, he is a reasonable man, a fair man, a good man, they MADE him go to the UN and LIE to the country and the world to start a WAR that has killed tens of thousands of people. That poor guy! It's the crazy president's fault, that lying Condi Rice and that jerk Rumsfeld, those wackos in DOD. Oh God, how did such a good and brilliant man, a war hero, get fooled into fighting tooth and nail for the dirty Iraq war?

The words rat and sinking ship come to mind.

F*ck Colin Powell.
posted by sic at 2:22 AM on May 5, 2004

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Thus Thomas Carlyle. Applicable in many ways -- I'm sure it could be thrown back in my face -- but I fear for Powell if he thinks that he can do more good inside than outside now. Republican operatives seemed intent on undermining him from day one; they've succeeded to the extent that his credibility is shot around the world.

If Powell were more of a man, he'd quit now. (I was going to say that he's perhaps too tied to his military past, and the notion of loyalty in the command structure; but you have not the right but the duty to refuse an illegal order.) It might have the same impact as Geoffrey Howe's resignation on Margaret Thatcher.
posted by riviera at 3:20 AM on May 5, 2004

Not to derail the thread, and I don't know the particulars of Powell's case, but most prostate cancers grow so slowly that men die of something else before they have any symptoms.

There's some controversy in the medical community over whether widespread screening is even a good idea because you end up finding (and invasively treating) a bunch of cancers that might never have caused any harm.
posted by straight at 10:11 AM on May 5, 2004

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