Monday, December 18, 2006

Gen. Colin Powell...

...and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

Good people all, Bush, who have been prominent in the news in the past couple of days (in the case of Powell) and weeks (in the case of Clinton and Obama). I watched Powell's interview with Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" yesterday morning, and I was impressed with his mostly forthright answers to tough questions about the current situation in Iraq. Too much of a good soldier still, perhaps, to come up with direct criticism of yourself and your Rumsfeld, what he said was nonetheless an honest and unblinking appraisal of the failures of your policies and the bleak options that face us in that country now.

As always with Powell, I wondered how this thoughtful man could possibly have allowed himself to be so badly misled by those clamoring for war, or how he could have swallowed the misgivings based on his own wisdom and experience, and be swept up into the war fever your people were generating at the time. It was he, after all, whose reputation for unimpugnable integrity persuaded the majority of the American people and their elected legislators that Saddam was a real and present danger to the stability of the world. I myself, as I have said before in these pages, Bush, was persuaded by his rhetoric at the United Nations.

So, it seems, was Hillary Clinton, who voted with the majority of our lawmakers to capitulate to your plan to invade Iraq. She was asked about that vote on the "Today Show" this morning, and declined to call it a "mistake." She did allow that it had been "wrong" to believe the lies we had been told, and that in hindsight she would not have cast that vote. I like her candidacy, Bush. I like the prospect of having a woman in the Oval Office for the first time, and she came across well: a realist, well-informed and articulate, with both an intimate, family-based and a broad view of the world, both hard- and level-headed, thoughtfully critical of your administration and its policies, politically astute, and capable. I have no doubt that she would make an admirable President. My hesitations have to do with her propensity to equivocate and straddle the political fence. But is that, I have to ask myself, a part of what it means to be realistic.

And, ah, Obama. So much adulation. Hard not to fall under his spell when you hear him speak with such elegance and passion. What he projects, above all, and powerfully, is what your father memorably dismissed as "the vision thing." Is it possible that this still young man actually has a handle on the way past the present partisan impasse, the negativism and rejectionism rife in American politics? There can be little doubt that the vast majority of the country is heartily sick of the spectacle of political leaders who are so arrogant and dismissive of the opinions of others that they have run this country into the ground, and Obama seems to envision something different. Could he turn out to be the "uniter" that you once famously claimed to be?

What's heartening to me is that we do have good people in this country who show promise of finding a way back to those real American values that you, Bush, have talked about so often and so much, but have failed, notably, to live up to. Sure, they have made, will make, mistakes and errors in judgment. That's forgivable. They have made, will need to make compromises along the way. That's realistic. But there's a core of honesty, compassion, inclusiveness, concern for the welfare of not just the wealthy few but for the many--a breadth of vision that, frankly, has not been the hallmark of your presidency, Bush. There's a more expansive, open-minded quality of character amongst these people that contrasts favorably with the shiftiness, the secretiveness, and the arrogant, self-righteous certainty with which you wield the authority of your position.

God knows, it's past time for America to open its heart and mind to the rest of the world again. I'm looking forward to some significant debate about the direction that we need to take, and hope that the country is ready to engage it.

4 comments:

Cardozo said...

Strange but true, that after six years of Bush II, progressives are now screaming about values, just as Republicans were in 1994. Different values, of course.

Strange, too, and frustrating, that it has taken so many disasters piled on one another to force our progressive leadership to finally find it's voice.

Fred said...

Sorry, but I don't see Hilary having a chance at election, if she should manage to get the nomination. She's too polarizing for the right and the middle, and too many people on the progressive side of things(including women) have a bad impression of her. One wag recently told me "she reminds everyone of their first wife".

PeterAtLarge said...

I hear what you're saying, Fred--and the joke kind of fits, in an uncomfortable way! But I also sense some changes in the atttudes you mention, and I choose not to cave in too readily to that familiar "unelectable" line. I'd like to think that a woman--including this one--has a fighting chance. We'll see. Cheers, PaL

PK said...

This sounds totally out in left field, but you know what I'd like to see? Obama with Powell at his side and Hill in there somewhere, with Bill pulling up the rear... I know;D... ya don't mix apples and oranges, but it would be nice to see the top two be intelligent people for a change, even if one is a Dem. and the other a Rep.. Might even bring our fair country together again. By the by, Hill is a good lawyer from what I've heard and read...