Colin L. Powell challenged Dick Cheney on the legacy of the Bush administration and the future of the Republican Party on Sunday, declaring that Republicans should not bow to “diktats that come from the right wing.”
The remarks by Mr. Powell, a former secretary of state, amounted to a public rebuttal of Mr. Cheney, the former vice president, and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio commentator, who have questioned Mr. Powell’s Republican credentials and suggested that he should leave the party.
“Rush will not get his wish,” Mr. Powell said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “And Mr. Cheney was misinformed. I am still a Republican.”
Mr. Powell’s appearance underlined an extraordinary public struggle among Republicans over the future of the party and the legacy of the Bush administration, particularly on national security. Mr. Powell broke with Mr. Cheney on the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, saying that he agreed with President Obama that it should be closed and that Mr. Cheney disagreed as much with his former boss as with Mr. Obama.
“Mr. Cheney is not only disagreeing with President Obama’s policy,” Mr. Powell said. “He’s disagreeing with President Bush’s policy. President Bush stated repeatedly to international audiences and to the country that he wanted to close Guantánamo. The problem he had was he couldn’t get all the pieces together…”
Mr. Powell infuriated many in his party last fall when he endorsed Mr. Obama for president. His appearance on “Face the Nation” comes two weeks after Mr. Cheney, appearing on the same program, said he believed that Mr. Powell “had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican…”
He made clear that he thought a major threat to the party were suggestions by Republicans like Mr. Cheney and Mr. Limbaugh that there was no room for Republicans like Mr. Powell…
Though I respect the views of traditional American conservatism – goodness knows there are enough of them in my extended family – I’m glad to see the nutball Right battling to stay in charge of the party. I’m just as pleased to see proto-fascists narrow their base, affront that portion of the American populace who respect democracy and collective political freedoms.
Let them paint themselves into the corner where racists and bigots, war-lovers and chickenhawks alike, the professional haters jostle each other into uselessness. The party of “NO’ indeed.