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:
- 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.