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Saturday, February 21, 2004

Losing the Brakes

In "a nation without brakes" Kevin over at The Tooney Bin notes an important talking point to make among your GOP friends at the water cooler: Colin Powell is checking out after this term.

This article discusses the frustrations of the bloodthirsty chickenhawk neocon contingent with the State department, but offers up a startling admission from a right wing think tanker (whom I'm sure is pulling splinters out of his posterior as we speak):

"State has very valuable things to say to the rest of us," said John Hulsman, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. "They're the listening posts overseas. They make the personal contacts; they know the foreign leaders' quirks and weaknesses."

Hulsman described himself as "more amused than annoyed" by the department's weaknesses. He also isn't bothered by its reluctance to always follow the Pentagon's wishes.

"Nobody likes hitting the brake," he said. "But aren't we glad there's one on a car?"

That's sort of odd, when you think about it. Is "hitting the brake" considered something to like or dislike? Do people wish they could just drive until their cars run out of gas on the side of the road? Or would they be glad if their destination were ordained by where their car ended up? The truth is that a car is undrivable unless it has brakes. It's not really an option. But I digress into a metaphor that is rapidly losing even me...

As Kevin notes in his post, the issue isn't whether Powell really provides any brakes. After his ignominious appearance before the UN, he pretty much flushed his credibility down the toilet. But, according to Fox news the public hasn't quite caught on to that fact. Powell still holds a 75% approval rating, 20% higher than the resident.

I think it is useful to continuously and relentlessly shine the light on the "grown-ups" who are handling Bush, whether it's the "good" ones like Powell who will be leaving or the bad ones like Cheney who are clinging to power. Nobody, not even Peggy Nooner, believes that Junior is really in charge of anything. Even the most die hard Republicans get a little worried at the thought of him behind the wheel with no brakes.

This is, after all, the mental giant who said just this week:

"I flew fighters when I was in the Guard, and I like speed," he said. "It would've been fun to drive up on these banks. ... I'd like to, but I'm afraid the agents wouldn't let me."

I think we can all agree that it's long past time for a brake job. In fact, the automobile of state needs a complete overhaul.

Update: Kevin writes in with the question of who might replace Powell if T-Ball erases his asterisk and actually wins the office. I think they will consider an '04 win to be a total validation of their actions thus far and will become even more aggressively radical than they already are.

Which means that this guy may very well be brought back from the dead to "reform" the State department.

That's when you start to think about stuff like fall out shelters and big cold, northern countries.