In a wistful Daily Beast column that could be construed as "What if... " or "If only..", conservative Matt Lewis lamented the turn of events that led the late General Colin Powell to demur when asked to be the Republican candidate for president -- saying it might have changed history enough that the GOP would have never fallen under the spell of outsider Donald Trump.
According to Lewis, the popular Powell -- whose only public misstep was a statement before the United Nations in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2001 that Powell later admitted was a mistake -- could have easily become the first Black president long before most of the country had ever heard of Barack Obama.
In fact, he notes, former president Ronald Reagan saw Powell as a future presidential winner and tried to convince him to run.
"Counterfactuals are always messy, but bear with me," Lewis wrote. "There is reason to believe that Powell was Ronald Reagan's vision of the Republican Party's bright future. And Powell might well have defeated Bill Clinton in 1996. That would have made Powell America's first Black president. Assuming re-election, he would have been president when 9/11 happened. Everything thereafter would, likely, have been very different."
He then ruefully added, "And, of course, it's hard to imagine a starker contrast than what eventually happened to America (and the GOP): President Donald J. Trump."
According to Lewis, a President Powell would likely have avoided launching the post-9/11 war and that would have far-reaching consequences.
"No Iraq war probably means no Obama and no Trump. What is more, Bill Clinton (and America) would have been spared the whole Monica Lewinsky ordeal. Instead of that, Powell watched the party slip away from him," Lewis wrote before adding that history -- and the Republican Party -- might have been changed for the better.
"For those who say Trump was the GOP's inevitable conclusion, I present President Powell as Exhibit A," he suggested. "Yes, the Grand Old Party hid a long-dormant toxic strain, but it didn't necessarily have to come to a head. It's a shame that a leader like Powell didn't emerge, but ultimately, Republicans own their decisions."
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