Colin Powell: Trump has “drifted away” from the Constitution


Drifted? I think not.

Colin Powell, the first African-American Secretary of State and the first African-American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” today that he is planning to vote for Democrat Joe Biden for president in November, again voting against Trump as he had done in 2016.

“I’m very close to Joe Biden on a social matter and on a political matter. I worked with him for 35, 40 years, and he is now the candidate and I will be voting for him.”

Powell went on to say, he was “proud” of what a number of former generals, admirals and diplomats have said about Trump’s response last week to the widespread protests, adding that he hadn’t released a public statement denouncing Trump’s response because he felt he had demonstrated his displeasure with Trump in 2016 when he voted against him.

Asked why it was so important to him that Trump not be reelected, Powell said that he thinks Trump has not been an effective president and that he lies “all the time.”

Powell’s displeasure with Trump is not surprising. I’m extremely pleased that he’s joined the list of former senior military officials critical of Trump. But, having said that, I do have one bone to pick with his characterization of Trump’s behavior:

Powell: “We have a Constitution. And we have to follow that Constitution. And the President has drifted away from it.”

Drifted? Here’s the definition of drift:

Drift (verb)

  • to be carried along by currents of water or air, or by the force of circumstances
  • to wander aimlessly
  • to be driven into heaps, as by the wind

Drifting, then, suggests “not in control,” being “carried along” by one or another outside force, to act “aimlessly,” to do something “without direction or purpose.”

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump has not “drifted away” from the Constitution.

Donald Trump has run away from the Constitution. He has rejected it, abandoned it, forsaken it, disregarded it, trashed it. And he hasn’t done it by aimlessly drifting; drifting would not suggest comments like this:

“When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be. … It’s total.”*

*Donald Trump – April 13, 2020

I know, General Powell, you’re an Army man and perhaps not familiar with boats, ships and the sea.

But, drifted, Trump has not. To paraphrase a former great U.S. Navy admiral, Trump has “damned the Constitution, and gone full speed ahead.”*

*With apologies to Union Admiral David Farragut in 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

5 thoughts on “Colin Powell: Trump has “drifted away” from the Constitution

  1. Good one, Teddy.

    I’ve always liked and usually respected Colin Powell, a good and thoughtful man…and here are a couple of examples where he has ‘fallen short’ …

    1) His complicity in escalating the rush to war in Iraq. He even had people like me, wondering if that might have some credibility, after all, if General/Secretary Powell, with all of his available resources and experience says it, there must be some level of truth there. That turned out to be COMPLETELY untrue. One might chalk it up to ignorance, except Powell’s not an ignorant man, rather a highly intelligent one

    2) You reported that Powell said, “…he hadn’t released a public statement denouncing Trump’s response because he felt he had demonstrated his displeasure with Trump in 2016 when he voted against him.”

    All well and good …except for the rule he should know very well:

    ‘There is no permanent cure…only daily treatment.’

    As for ‘drift’…yeah, sort of like The Titanic ‘drifting’ into the iceberg.

    Maybe one day we’ll become a civilized society.


    1. There’s no question that Colin Powell has fallen short. His complicity in getting us into the Iraq war was a huge mistake. Perhaps he was duped when he made that horrific UN address, but that’s no excuse; he’s too smart for that.

      Regarding not speaking out earlier because “he had demonstrated his displeasure before…” were his words. I agree…squirrelly to say the least. But at least he finally came forward. Unfortunately, and to my point, tempered by the saying that Trump has “drifted.” Terrible choice of word.

      BTW, the Titanic wasn’t drifting . She was attempting to win the Blue Ribbon for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing. Paraphrasing again, “Damn the Icebergs, full speed ahead!”

      Finally, I love your half-full glass regarding civilized society. You need to do more to convince me.

      Stay well. We need to meet up somewhere, sometime, someplace.

      (God, I’m starting to sound like Sondheim)


  2. I am thankful for Powell’s comments……we need more of our leaders to voice their concerns….to disavow and allegiance to Trump……we need cries of despair, anguish and disappointment to be heard frequently and vociferously if change is going to occur!
    Let’s hope that change is forthcoming!


  3. Ted and Jay, et. al,

    Please don’t construe my comments as not being appreciative of Powell’s position. It’s just my cynical side, and sometimes sarcastic nature 😉 popping through.

    Would love to be able to “convince” you of progress in our ‘civilizing process’. Can’t say I’ve been sanguine about the prospects…AND…will be ecstatic to be proven wrong by any significant results achieved during / after this ‘moment in time’, these demonstrations throughout the world. This is really an unprecedented ‘event’…a ‘global movement.

    And BTW, I’m not against ‘hope’…just don’t think it’s a good strategy.

    Keep on keepin’ on


    1. Hey Charles,
      Nothing misconstrued. I agree, Powell fell short in several areas…the rush to war in Iraq being the biggest one. His former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, now a frequent Trump critic and who was responsible for reviewing the CIA data that led to Powell’s UN presentation, also was at fault…although he now says his failure to realize that the evidence was faulty had been attributed to the limited time (only one week) that he had to review the data. Whatever, bad judgement in both cases. But at least both have had the courage to admit their mistakes (with a caveat or two). When Powell said on Sunday that he never thought he’d ever have to say a president lies, he was correct. Bush, on Iraq, didn’t lie; he was naively duped by Cheney and Rumsfeld.

      Regarding “hope?” I agree we’re beyond that. We need existential change…and the most consequential change is the removal of Trump and his enablers, including as many of the duplicitous GOP senators and Congressmen as possible.


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