Is this town big enough for Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz? I’m not sure it is.
There’s been a back-and-forth over the last week between Powell — as the point-man for slow and deliberate response — and Wolfowitz as the rep for overwhelming military retaliation on the model of Michael Corleone’s hit on all the family’s enemies at the end of Godfather I.
To date, much of this has been going on at the level of tea leaves. But it’s now escalating to the point where something or someone may have to give way.
I don’t have the transcript yet, but on This Week this morning Sam Donaldson was interviewing Powell. And in the course of that interview Donaldson pressed the Secretary of State on these internal disagreements within the administration. Particularly, Powell made a point of saying that whatever their private views, everyone in the administration is united following the president.
But he said everyone at the “cabinet level.” The clear target of that qualifier was Wolfowitz. So Powell wasn’t denying the rift; he was affirming it. And hurling what amounts to a pretty weighty accusation against the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
LATE UPDATE: Here’s the relevant portion of the interchange from the transcript posted at Washingtonpost.com.
DONALDSON: You’re a general. But you don’t sound very warlike, compared to other voices in this town, and some within the administration.
POWELL: The only voice that I try to compare myself to and to be consistent with is the president of the United States. All of his cabinet-level security advisers are in agreement with the policy direction he has given us, with the instructions he has given us, and the decisions he has made.
Mr. Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld, myself, Dr. Rice, the secretary of the Treasury, the FBI, the attorney general, all working together, understand the instructions the president has given us.
Special thanks goes to TPM reader WM for sending along the link.