Posted on Tuesday 18 December 2007

I suppose everyone that blogs about the political situation of the current moment has a personal reason for doing it. Mine are multiple, but one is that as a retired person living in the mountains, I’m no longer in the urban and university environment where there are a lot of people to talk to about the goings-on in Washington. But part of it is guilt. I feel enormously guilty that there’s such a pestilence on the land, and I can’t do a thing about it. Somehow, keeping up, writing about things, thinking about it makes me feel like I’m at least not ignoring the sad state our country has plunged itself into during the recent past. I could never have imagined that we would nose-dive like this, particularly with the disastrous Viet Nam War so experience-near in our history. But, I must say that "keeping up" hasn’t done a lot for my world view. It seems like the more I know, the harder it is to hold on to my youthful ideas of honor, valor, integrity, etc. I notice that my friends are certainly more cynical these days. I expect that the information age has something to do with it – we just know a lot more than we used to. But that doesn’t exonerate our current leaders. They’re unusually rotten – maybe the most rotten ever. They’re certainly contenders.

It still saddens me to find out that someone who seem to have escaped the deterioration of a Bush or a Cheney [paradigms of the corruption of power] has feet of clay. I was pointed to this article about Colin Powell in Consortium News today. It was that kind of downer.
The Truth about Colin Powell
By Robert, Sam and Nat Parry
November 28, 2007
I didn’t quote pieces of it because it’s a story, and the narrative doesn’t lend itself to being abstrated like a news article that usually has its essence in a paragraph or two. It tells the story of Powell’s career in a different way than I knew. It’s about a young Army Officer on the way up the ladder – a guy who moved up, in part, by being good at carrying out orders that shouldn’t have ever been given. It begins by talking about Powell’s involvement in covering up Army incidents in Viet Nam, including My Lai – incidents that should have come to light the day they happened. It goes on to detail his role in the Iran-Contra Affair. Powell was directly involved in the transfer of arms to Iran, and in keeping it under cover from the military higher-ups and Congress.

But it was his testimony in the Iran-Contra Hearings that was the hardest for me to read. He sounded like Alberto Gonzales, repeatedly saying "I don’t recall." "At one point, Powell said, ‘To my recollection, I don’t have a recollection.’" As you remember, as absurd as the Iran-Contra Scandal was with Ollie North and Fawn Hall entertaining us day after day, it was a conscious evasion of Congressional Oversight and a direct defiance of Congressial Law by the Reagan Administration. In retrospect, it was the kind of tactic that has become everyday business in the Bush Administration. And Colin Powell was up to his neck is the deceptions.

We got our high opinion of Colin Powell during the first Gulf War as the very credible sidekick of Dick Cheney and Norman Schwarzkopf. But, after reading this article, that may have been his moment to shine. The rest of his career is more in keeping with his testimony at the U.N. – doing what he was told. He is presented as someone who was moving up by bringing off some fairly shady logistical and administrative mumbo-jumbo. I’d prefer he had a different trajectory. As a kid, I grew up with "I like Ike." When I found out my mother supported Adlai Stevenson over Eisenhower, I wondered if she’d taken leave of her senses. Eisenhower was a General who’d saved civilization for all time! I guess a part of me still wanted a heroic General to be a real hero – like Ike was to the fifth grader I was in 1952. Colin Powell sure doesn’t come off as much of a hero in this well written and well documented article.

Superstar and Hero don’t necessarily equate…

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