Powell Has Right Stuff to Be Another Ike

Article excerpt

PERHAPS the most refreshing outcome of Colin Powell's flirtation with a run for the White House is that it has not prompted editorial writers across the nation to raise this question in their publications: "Is the United States ready for an African-American president?" Maybe there are whites who would vote against Powell because of his color. But this has not been showing up in any significant degree in polls. The only bias that remains is one that would be expected and is not threatening to racial progress: Some African-Americans would depart their usual Democratic vote and support Powell should he become the Republican or third-party presidential candidate. What makes General Powell particularly attractive to all races is that he is a black in public life who doesn't appear to have a black-related political agenda. He calls himself "a fiscal conservative with a social conscience" (like Eisenhower described his views) and in no way sounds as though he intends to stand out primarily as the candidate of blacks and other minorities. He does support affirmative action and says he is sensitive to the problems of the poor. But he makes it clear that if he becomes president he intends to be the president of all the people. Now Powell hasn't even stepped into contention for the presidency. Indeed, in his newly published memoirs he indicates an inclination against running. But as he nears his decision there is a widespread expectancy in the press and in political circles that this Gulf war hero and former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will make a big splash - whether he runs as a third-party candidate or enters the primaries (probably as a Republican). In his book, "My American Journey," Powell says he's leaning toward a third-party candidacy. …