October 18, 2002

Belafonte v. Powell
So, someone was surprised that I didn't have anything to say about this, so, here's my humble opinion:
I completely understand why and how Harry Belefonte can say what he said about Colin Powell, but it also demonstrates how little he understands politics. Say what you will about Colin Powell. In the grand scheme of things, he's probably the only reason why there aren't American troops in Bagdad right now. Without Powell pushing him to seek Congressional and UN support, Bush would have just gone blasting into Iraq back in August. Powell is the voice of reason over there. I agree with Mr. Belafonte that Powell probably doesn't agree with Bush's policies in his heart, but Powell knows his invaluable to Bush's re-election plans. Powell's presence is probably the only thing keeping the moderates in Bush's corner at the moment. So, if Powell resigned before the end of this 1st term, Bush is out in 2004. Powell knows it, and, more importantly, Bush knows it. So Bush has to appease Powell at some level to keep him in his administration. Powell can do the math and knows he wields much more power inside Bush's administration than on the outside (notice how Bush completely ignored James Baker's calls for caution on Iraq, and Baker was the guy who helped him steal the 2000 election!). On the other hand, Powell can't come off as overtly anti-Bush, because then he becomes an albatross - Bush's conservative base would demand that he fire Powell, or he'd lose their support. So, this is why we get the dance: Powell works on Bush in private, and supports him in public. Powell gets certain policy concessions he feels are important, and Bush gets to strengthen his chances of re-election in 2004.
Now, in the worst possible world, where Bush is re-elected, I guarantee you Powell will step down, citing reasons like "fatigue", because he won't have anymore leverage over Bush.
So, what does all this mean? It means that Belefonte is right on Powell's beliefs, but completely off-base about Powell's agenda. The general isn't Bush's lapdog. He's the President's leash.
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