In 1986 I ran a campaign in Upstate New York. It was a primary campaign for an open seat and it was more then obvious that the potential to be very negative was there.
I had the better candidate. We were heavily financed, he was known and very well liked, plus a record of cutting taxes and providing jobs. He was ideal.
We had the usual coterie friends, relatives, and hangers on. I wanted to go nuclear and get past the primary. We were in a heavy Republican District and the general would be no problem. The friends of the candidate from day one told me how this was New York and negative campaigns did not work there.
They were so determined to prove their point that they had the chief of staff for Al D’amato call me to explain how negative campaigns do not work in New York. This was after Al D’Amato ran one of the most negative primary campaigns in the history of American politics against Jake Javits a sitting Republican US Senator. A campaign where Al had accused Javits of being a “dying old man”. Where Al had run an anti-semitic campaign in upstate New York. This guy was telling me that negative campaigns do not work in New York.
For all of you people who have not run a political campaign you have to understand. When you walk up to your candidate the night of the election and tell him he has won a look comes over their face. It is there just for a moment. It is a look that says they have won because of divine right. Forget the hard work, the 20 hour days, the army of volunteers, fund raisers and everything else. They won because they were supposed to win.
Every political operative I have ever known has talked about the “look.” Every winning candidate I have had no matter the office from dog catcher to President has had that look.
Tom Ridge and Colin Powell have forgotten how they became Tom Ridge and Colin Powell. Ridge has fogotten how in his first congressional campaign he waged a vicious, negative, campaign. He forgot that to win he would do anything because his ego drove him to it.
He has not forgotten how Dick Cheney blocked his being nominated as Secretary of Defense under President Bush. Gary Bauer led the public opposition to Ridge and Cheney in private told Bush it was not a good political move at that time. His biggest proponent for the Secretary of Defense was Colin Powell. Powell wanted his old friend Ridge to be his counterpart at Defense while was at State. Cheney, won the initial confrontation,however, he would endorse Ridge for Secretary of Homeland Security after 9/11.
Colin Powell is beginning to look like a weak version of Ulysses S. Grant. After Grant left the White House beginning with his memoirs he spent the remainder of his life attempting to rehabilitate his name and rationalize the actions he took as President. That is Powell. He is desperately attempting to clear his name from any besmirching that being President Bush’s Secretary of State might have caused or created.
He is saying whatever the media wants him to say to get in their good graces. He is smart enough to know that defending the Messiah will always lead to pats on the head and smiles from the media. He also has a bone to pick with Cheney since on at least two known occasions Cheney carried the day in confrontations with President Bush.
Both Powell and Ridge would have walked over their own mothers to achieve their ambitions. I was a junior officer on Powell’s staff in the Army it was known by everyone he was more interested in favorable headlines for himself then ANYTHING ELSE. Powell was a carbon copy of Omar Bradley.
Bradley was very shrewd in his manipulation of the press. The line “the soldier’s General” was generated by his staff. He was excellent when it came to logistics and training. As a strategist and tactician he was very timid and spent his time more concerned about losing (getting bad headlines) then in winning.
When Patton was making his end run and stood to completely destroy the German 7th Army and end the war before Christmas of 1944 Bradley halted him so Montgomery could have his ill fated and militarily stupid “Market Garden”. Bradley let Montgomery carry the argument to Eisenhower and prevail because he was afraid that Patton was due for a loss and he wanted to stop him.
If Patton had his way hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved and the war would have been over sooner then it was. Bradley was convinced once the fighting reacher German soil Patton would be defeated in his all out assault.
That is Powell. He was always timid and overly cautious. The media always get a woody when speaking of the Powell doctrine. Well golly gee his so called doctrine has only been used military commanders for over 4,000 years. Nice of him to package well known military strategies and tactics and put his name on them.
If Colin Powell and the well known anti-semite Brent Scowcroft had listened to General Norman Schwarzkopf and pushed ahead into Baghdad in February, 1991, the second Gulf War would have not been necessary and the entire face of the Middle East would have changed and changed for the good. Powell as well as the famous anti-semite were too afraid to finish the fight. They were afraid of losing a war they had already won.
With all of my rambling in place I must at the end politely refuse the weak kneed, biased (read payback), and ignorant advice of Tom Ridge and Colin Powell.