Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Going for the Main Chance

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Going for the Main Chance

Article excerpt

AT the White House correspondents' dinner two years ago, I was talking to Gen. Colin Powell when Barbara Streisand approached, trailed by photographers. Powell turned his back on me and embraced Ms. Streisand while the flash bulbs popped. When I later chided him for his discourtesy, he said, "Look, Dan, you come from the South Bronx, I come from the South Bronx. You went to City College. I went to City College. Didn't we learn that you always go for the main chance?"

Now the retired general has a good chance at the main chance. Opinion polls show him as more popular than any current candidate and as almost splitting the vote in a three-way race with President Clinton and Sen. Bob Dole. The question is: Will he go for the main chance?

On that he is elaborately evasive, which will help the sales of his book, "My American Journey," coming in the fall. His way of being evasive is to talk in sentences like this, "I don't find a passion for politics ... I don't find that I have that calling for politics.... I was truly a soldier." But, as a soldier he wasn't a bad politician. He worked in the Office of Management and Budget during the Johnson administration. He won the devotion of Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger as his military aide, managing to sidestep the Iran-contra scandal. He served under President Reagan as national security adviser.

Politician? Look how General Powell has shifted on gays in the military. In January 1993 he said, "The presence of homosexuals in the forces would be detrimental to good order and discipline." In June 1993, at Harvard, facing a protest by gay students, he said, "We took on racism, we took on drugs. We will do the same, my friends, with the difficult issue of homosexuals in the military." In July 1993 Clinton announced the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Joint Chiefs chairman Powell announced his support. …

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