If ever a man missed his moment in history, it was Colin Powell.
Bill Clinton told me he thought that Powell was the only person who could have defeated his bid for a second term.
And when Powell announced that he would not run, I turned to President Clinton and said “Congratulations, you’ve just been re-elected.”
He waited a moment for it to sink in and then silently nodded.
Had Powell run and won, he would have personified what we all hoped Barack Obama would be: A non-racial healer who would have finally mended the scar of slavery and brought America together.
He would have focused on encouraging black and minority upward mobility the same way he himself had made it: on the merits and by the book.
He was no community organizer turned politician. As our leading general and a very effective secretary of state, he had the breadth of experience in working with both parties and through the bureaucracy that Obama sadly lacked.
When he did not run, black frustration could be tapped by the extreme left to make the case for government programs as the alternate route to success.
Disregarding the potential for individuals moving up in the world on their own, they were able to make the case that the economic and social ladder could only be scaled collectively — it takes a village — through political action and government spending.
In selling that point of view, the left paved the way only for division and revolt — and individual self-enrichment for its political sponsors.
Rather than use the racial divide to get elected, as Democrats have done ever since, Powell could have brought the country to a true post-racial era in which color of skin mattered as little as differences of religious faith now do.
As a formerly uniformed top general, Powell could have battled racism in America’s police as successfully as he did in our military, convincing both sides of the police-civilian gulf to work together in a post-racial environment.
But the risk of violence and assassination was too much for Secretary and Mrs. Powell to face.
He lived for 25 years after his moment passed him by.
I pray that they were happy ones.
He richly deserved his retirement and reward for the service he did render to America.
Rest in peace.
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