There’s one man in Washington today that I truly feel sorry for, and that’s Colin Powell. He’s been forced to swallow his own pride and convictions in order to be a mouthpiece for an administration that has acted counter to his advice on numerous occasions. He’s been used shamelessly for his credibility and his acceptance among the American public and it’s got to be difficult for him. Colin Powell has proven that he is, if nothing else, a team player. He’s done his best to take one for the team time after time. He is one of the most loyal people in the administration and despite his own personal convictions he has upheld his responsibilities to back the current gang of thugs in the Whitehouse.
Colin Powell is a very smart man. He has a peculiar (and unfortunately rare) combination of intelligence, congeniality, conviction and morality. He’s a man that understands honor and understands the whole concept of “face” that so many people have discarded. He wears an aura of respectability about him wherever he goes. Every time I see him on some program mincing words with yet another talking head my respect grows for him another notch. He’s obviously struggling, trying to justify some recent bit of thuggery, and trying to lend his respectability and credibility to his boss out of nothing but an old-fashioned sense of American loyalty. Bush is a lucky man in the case of Colin Powell. He’s lucky to have the man’s loyalty in a time when cabinet members are deserting in droves to write their own tell-all books, dishing the inside dirt on the inner workings of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m quite sure this was a major factor in his appointment.
I was a machinist mate when I served in the Navy (bear with me a minute, I’m actually going somewhere with this segue). My job entailed working on piping systems, valves, seawater and steam piping, pumps, turbines and other assorted bits of machinery involving the nuclear power plant as well as the secondary system. One of the things that I learned was the concept of a “sacrificial anode”, a piece of metal that we would install in various places that would corrode first. These anodes were basically chunks of zinc or other metals, bolted to various parts of the hull, seawater tanks, piping systems, etc. These metal plates would offset the natural galvanic corrosion in the system, corroding instead of the metal of the hull, tanks or piping. Once they were used up we’d throw them away and bolt in new ones, constantly consuming them to save the rest of the system. The big pieces of machinery, the piping, the tanks, and the pumps were the public face and got all the credit but in reality it was the decidedly unsexy sacrificial anodes that kept the systems from crumbling into ruin.
Colin Powell is Bush’s sacrificial anode. Bush is eating up Powell’s credibility and respectability in order to save his own reputation. As time passes, I feel like I can actually see Powell withering away, slowly being consumed by the constant abuse of his loyalty and respectability. I once used to think Powell would make a damned fine president and I would’ve been proud to vote for him but I am beginning to realize that I probably will never get the chance; Bush will consume him completely, wringing every last drop of loyalty and respect out of the man before discarding him and bolting a new anode onto his political machine. The sad thing about the situation is that the very qualities that make Powell respectable and admirable are the ones that are, in my opinion, leading to his demise. Powell cannot abandon Bush. His own personal code of ethics prevents that. His only hope is for Bush to get canned and thrown out of office before he manages to completely destroy all of his remaining credibility. The catch-22 of the situation is that Powell will probably do everything in his power in order to maintain the very situation that is leading to his own downfall and in reality he can’t act differently. Acting to subvert Bush would be completely counter to his nature, his personality and his personal code of honor.
Only we can help people like Colin Powell. Luckily we have a very powerful weapon at our disposal; we have the ballot box. If you respect and admire Colin Powell, if you worry that his honor is being sacrificed to justify the actions of a man who isn’t worth of the gifts he’s being given then I urge you to take these convictions with you into the voting booth on election day. Let your own conscience, your own sense of fair play and your own personal honor be your guide.