American Apologies: Colin Powell's Is the Real Thing

To me he is one of the most compelling, and, I suppose, pitiable people in politics.

He has been wrong about nearly everything that matters, as so many have, but he has, as the result of what seems to be great suffering and some respect for the obvious, admitted it.

Few people in politics have had the stature and opportunity that Colin Powell has had and wasted it so miserably. Out of power now for almost five years, he was on Face the Nation yesterday, still trying to make amends for his part in helping nurture the right wing, saying Republicans ought to give Obama a break.

Powell's is a political biography that ought to be written. It's everything that's wrong with a decent man, all that loyal soldier stuff, and everything right, too: One by one, in acts of excruciating self-mortification, the guy is reversing each of the grievous stands he took.

Not that he should be forgiven. It was his justification for the Iraq war that supplied Bush with the necessary cover. He is largely responsible for Don't Ask Don't Tell. He sat there as secretary of state while we waged two wars, both of which contradicted his own precisely spelled out standards for how to wage a war. And he let himself be upstaged and humiliated by Dick Cheney. Not to mention that by not running for president in 2000 as a Republican, or crossing over and joining the Democrats, he helped, perhaps decisively, Bush become president.

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