With all the criticism Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales have received over the past several months, you’d figure that the Vice President and the Attorney General will be regarded as the most hated figures ever connected to the Bush Administration. Remembering the heat that Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice used to generate from the left, you wouldn’t be wrong to think that the former Secretary of Defense and the current Secretary of State will be viewed by history as the most “villainous” figures of the Bush years. However, a case could be made that the most hated person ever to have served the Bush Administration is actually former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Powell was supposed to be the “stabilizing,” “moderating” force in the Bush Administration, the centrist counterbalance to all of those allegedly nefarious right-wingers in the Cabinet. Powell was somehow supposed to single-handledly stop the Bush Administration from pursuing its foreign policy initiatives. How Powell was supposed to do this, I have no idea, but this was clearly what progressives hoped for during the first Bush term.
The left will never forgive Powell for “falling down on the job,” and embracing the Bush vision in the months preceding the Iraq War. Specifically, Powell will always be scorned by the left for his February 5, 2003 speech to the UN Security Council laying out the case for the removal of Saddam Hussein. According to the left, Powell betrayed all of his progressive principles with that address, abandoning his supposed duty to prevent Bush from acting on his worst cowboy instincts. In other words, Powell, who was supposed to love, honor and cherish liberalism, had an affair with a neoconservative mistress.
The intense hatred Powell has received from the left since February 2003 is quite similar to the hatred Clarence Thomas has received from the left since July 1991. Powell and Thomas would only be tolerated by the left if they used their positions to advance liberal philosophy; once it became clear that Powell and Thomas were not “loyal” to the left, they became absolute scoundrels in the eyes of progressives.
Powell has tried to regain his credibility among liberals since leaving the Bush Administration, but in truth, it’s a wasted effort. When he passes on, the left will spew far more venom upon his corpse than they will upon any other member of the Bush Administration. Progressives expected nothing from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, John Ashcroft or Rice. However, they expected something from Powell–mainly, that Powell would be the courageous voice for foreign-policy progressivism in a supposedly ultra-conservative administration. Because Powell was not that voice, progressives will always scream when hearing his name.