Powell vs. Rice 

Powell vs. Rice

Richard Holbrooke is less than impressed with the followers of Colin Powell who are now turning on W:

Which brings us to an even deeper paradox. It is not surprising that Wilkerson lashed out at Condoleezza Rice, although he failed to note that she was serving the president as he wanted to be served. But, in recent moves rich with irony, as secretary of state she has improved many first-term policies, in such places as North Korea, Iran, Bosnia and Kosovo, and in relations with some of our major European allies. (Powell's friends say with bitterness that when he proposed similar policies, he was thwarted, in part, by her.)

Not everything is better in the second term -- confusion and mixed signals still reign in such critical areas as the United Nations and China -- and then there is Iraq. But things are looking up in foreign policy. The immensely disciplined Rice is seeking to undo damage done in the past four years without ever admitting there was any -- a nifty bit of cognitive dissonance, but one she seems determined to pull off. Events have, of course, pushed her and the president in this direction, and it is easier with Feith and Paul Wolfowitz gone. But -- and this may be the most painful irony of all -- Powell's departure opened the door to somewhat more pragmatic policies, which Bush and the "cabalists" had been opposing.

It is amazing that this open war went on around Bush. He must have thought more than once that Powell was one person his old man's connections had, most unfortunately, stuck him with. It seems to have reached the point where policies were discredited simply because they came from Powell and his team. Now Rice has more freedom to implement policies which, in some cases at least, are exactly the same.

What was she thinking in the first term? Perhaps that the boys had gone a little nuts, but she had better hang in there and serve the President. Presumably she believes he has a good heart. Now she has the opportunity, as she always had the ability, to fix some of Bush's mistakes without ever forcing him to admit that he's made any.

(Via Matthew Yglesias, TPM Cafe.

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