GENERAL LETDOWN

COLIN POWELL'S GRACEFUL EXIT FROM THE RACE REMINDED AMERICANS WHY THEY WANTED HIM TO RUN IN THE FIRST PLACE. THIS IS THE STORY OF WHY HE DIDN'T

THE MOST INTERESTING DECISION IN MODern American politics was made, in the final days, not once and for all but over and over again. On Thursday night Colin Powell was poised to run. All the stars were aligned, the polls plump with support, the money hovering, ready to land. And then there came Newt Gingrich, who slipped away from his handlers and arrived in secret on Powell's doorstep, bearing the flame of the conservative revolution and telling him, in effect, "Do it."

So close he came, and yet by the next morning the fire had gone out again, and by Monday...

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