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Posted at 2:02 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Ed Rendell says Colin Powell should join West Wing

By Jonathan Capehart

Everyone seemed to love my idea that President Obama needs a governor in the West Wing and that that governor should be Ed Rendell (D-Pa.). Everyone except Rendell's son. In a jovial five-minute phone conversation this morning, Gov. Rendell told me that he assured his son that the president would rather walk over hot coals daily than have him underfoot. But Rendell did tell me who he thought would be "perfect": Republican former secretary of state Colin Powell.

Powell was my first choice for chief of staff back in September when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced he would not seek another term, thus giving then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel the opening he needed to bolt the administration. But I was talked out of thinking of Powell for Rahm's post.

...because of Powell's role in the run-up to the Iraq War, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party would go absolutely nuts if he were chosen. Also, why on earth would he want such a thankless job? And now that she's got him off the White House hamster wheel, why on earth would Mrs. Powell want to let him go back?

"He's enough of a patriot," Rendell said, that "I can't believe [Powell] would say no" to the president if asked to take the job.

Rendell rattled off Powell's pluses, including the high regard with which he's held on both sides of the aisle and the personal prestige he invested in endorsing a Democrat in the presidential election. I couldn't agree more. I would add that the retired general being outside Obama's inner circle is another advantage. And because he is used to the power of the Oval Office, Powell would be respectful of the occupant of the Oval, but he would not be awed by the person who sits in it.

Rendell said Obama shouldn't worry about the base if he were to pick Powell. "We have got to govern," he said. "The best way to get reelected is to do a good job." Rendell told me that Obama needed "the stature of someone above the fray" to help him get through an education bill with bipartisan changes to No Child Left Behind, an energy bill without cap-and-trade and "real deficit reduction." According to Rendell, "Colin Powell is the only one who could do it."

By Jonathan Capehart  | December 14, 2010; 2:02 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Colin Powell would be an amazing choice. Progressives would go nuts though. Also, I wonder if General Powell regrets his endorsement of the President just a bit. That said, I believe he would take the job anyway. As Mr. Capehart and the Gov. Rendell state, the general is a patriot. I believe he would do anything for his country.

Posted by: outcast | December 14, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm a progressive, and I wouldn't go nuts at all. Powell obviously 'took one for the team' when making the case for war with Iraq. I'm sure he had many good reasons for feeling he had to do it, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Progressives are generally smart, thoughtful people who think things through past the surface level. For that reason, I feel Powell would be embraced by my like-minded brethren. I would be surprised if any true progressive disagreed.

Posted by: semantic1 | December 14, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Good God no - he's the moron who started this case of mistaken identity down here in this little boonie country in the first place (why do you think he lost his job - he failed to deliver), Hillary Clinton only continued his mistake because he had "picked up" her pet micro-credit mutts down here and they vouched for his mistake in return, which is why America is in such a mess down here. lol.

You put him in the West Wing and he'll block all communication to President Obama from there just to hide his own mistake out here seven years ago, and you can say goodbye to Obama's second term, because the economy will just get worse. lol

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | December 14, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I think it would be a wonderful idea. It would settle the issue once and for all that Powell is anything but a conservative and RINO is not a strong enough term to describe the guy. Can you imagine someone who calls himself conservative supporting the most left wing democrat party nominee ever. Powell is a fraud. Take the job, please.

Posted by: tmonahan54 | December 14, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Powell knew he was peddling absolute, easily-debunked rubbish at his UN appearance, but let loyalty to the Bush Jr/Cheney Administration outweigh his loyalty to our Constitution.

Let's ask the Iraqis what they think of Colin Powell.

Posted by: kingcranky | December 14, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

An impressive idea. I also wonder about SecDef as Gates is headed home.

As for the presentation to the UN, Powell clearly believed in what he was saying. If he didn't, he would have resigned. If he didn't and still gave the presentation, he's unfit for any post.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 15, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

should anyone care what jonathan capehart thinks?

Posted by: potomacfever00 | December 15, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Powell is a closet liberal. Picked by Bush Sr and Cheney for advancement(over scores of more qualified officers) he got the plum, no risk assignments in the Army. All he had to do was not screw up. He never accomplished anything of note. Then, in an illustration of his lack of character, after they helped him to get rich, he turned on his Republican benefactors, and backed Oduumbo and the liberals.
He is as contemptible as any of the other RINOs.
U.S.Army Retired

Posted by: LarryG62 | December 15, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

If you're tired of partisanship, try this:

Posted by: scottehredt | December 15, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretaries of State usually don't take jobs in the West Wing. Put Powell in there and Barry will be completely outgunned and unable to play the race card too.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 15, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Have you given any thought to this idea? The chief of Staff has to have some knowledge of Congress and its leaders plus some measure of executive authority and some energy. Powell, with all due respect, is an executive-type who is now an older retired exective. Between his lack of vitality as Secretary of State and his lack of experience with Congress - I can think of no reason he would be a good Chief of Staff except as a titular head with a helluva good 2nd in command. Now Powell would make a good Senator or Governor if he had the energy to run for any of those positions. My take on Powell is that he probably wants to acquire as many board seats in industry as possible and go out with his reputation intact.

Posted by: steven7753 | December 15, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I think Gen Powell would be honored to serve at the pleasure of the POTUS...any of them.

Posted by: PanhandleWilly | December 15, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

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