Thursday, April 24, 2003

Back From the Wilderness? Ah, what to make of the minor Bush-Gingrich kerfuffle? There's been a lot of GOP talk about how Powell has failed miserably in the diplomatic lead-up to Iraq. I disagree with that for the most part. Yes, I think we could've had Turkey on our side. Yes, Powell seems to have some trouble keeping his staff in line. But his performance at the UN was exactly on target. And, to his credit, when he saw the diplomatic well dry up, he became an eloquently reluctant hawk, which was great PR in a country that thinks more highly of Powell than just about any other figure in government. In addition, as I've said before, some (not all) of his dove stance was as a calculated good cop to Rummy's bad cop. And any criticism that Powell didn't get France on our side is ludicrous. France's vote was never in play, despite the way they begged us to play the diplomatic game. There was no chance, none, that France would go a step beyond 1441 until Powell turned hawk. Once Powell stopped playing, Villepin and Chirac began to suggest, never concretely, that France's non-negotiables were, in fact, negotiable. It was a joke, and Powell wisely refused to return to the table.

That said, what is Newt's angle? He's not going to weasel his way into the Cabinet, certainly. It's not too early to think about 2008. Can Newt pull off that kind of turnaround, from fallen speaker to presidential candidate? I doubt it, but I bet he'd love to run against Hillary in '08, if only for old times' sake. Oh, man. That would be a race worth following.

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