Sunday, February 17, 2002

Powell Standing Firm on Condoms-Colin Powell was making the Sunday talkie circuit and not backing off his condom statements of Thursday.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president did not object to what Powell said about condoms. As for Powell’s remarks about taboos and conservative ideas, Fleischer said the secretary was speaking in a theological, rather than political, context. Powell seconded that view on Sunday, saying his reference to conservative ideas “was not a political statement, it was a social and cultural statement. It’s small ‘c.’” “When I went to Africa and I started looking at what was going on in the undeveloped countries, one of the problems we’re having is cultural taboos where people don’t talk about these kinds of things. ... People who are brought up in certain tribal conditions are not willing to talk about these issues,” he said. “Those are the sorts of conservative ideas that you have to break through in order to protect people, in order to save people.”
When the president gets back from Asia, he'll have to put out a fire on this one. I'm not the only one giving Powell a hard time here; a Gary Bauer quote-“On public health issues he should follow the lead of the Bush administration, which he serves” comes close to my inital comments of Friday morning. The initial, instinctive political response of the administration is to be supportive of Powell, especially while the president is on the Asia trip. When he comes back, he may have a lot of fire from his right flank to deal with. Then, it will become interesting how Bush manages his domestic coalition.

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