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Analysis: The two legacies of Colin Powell

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One is his imprint on the country. Powell helped shape US foreign and military policy over decades and his break with the GOP — a long time coming — foretold the party’s rightward lurch at a time of misinformation and insurrection.
But his death, which came as he battled the blood cancer multiple myeloma, captures the difficulty in this very specific moment of convincing some Americans to trust their government when it comes to vaccination against the coronavirus.
Pause just for a moment to consider his legacy. Powell, a soldier turned statesman, was born the child of immigrants in the Bronx.
He inspired Americans as the first Black man to serve as the nation’s top general, its top diplomat and one of its most admired and trusted leaders, but one with a complicated legacy.
A warrior who preached diplomacy, he ended his public service career as the megaphone for flawed intelligence used to push the country into war in Iraq.
He is known for moments of conscience. Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008, despite a post-military career as a Republican, was a key moment in that presidential race, when Obama sought to quiet concerns about his lack of national security experience. Read CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny on that episode.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote that Powell’s style of moderate politics feel out of whack in today’s political atmosphere and in today’s GOP.
While he’d served in three Republican administrations, Powell told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria after the January 6 insurrection that he was no longer calling himself a member of the party.
He is known for complicated failures. Yet it was Powell who, almost two decades earlier, delivered the speech at the United Nations — based on incorrect intelligence — backing the George W. Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq to push out Saddam Hussein, who was only still in power because Powell and others chose not to oust him after the first Gulf War.
Now consider the reaction to his manner of death. Powell, who was vaccinated, died from a breakthrough infection of Covid-19 as he also battled cancer. CNN reported he had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response — making him extraordinarily vulnerable, even with the vaccine. He was also suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Younger people should be getting vaccinated in order to protect at-risk people like Powell, according to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University.
“He was over the age of 80, he had cancer, and a treatment for his cancer made him vulnerable,” Reiner said Monday on CNN.
“So, when we try and convince young people who feel that they are low-risk from the virus itself why they need to be vaccinated, it’s to protect our treasures, our people like Gen. Powell, our grandparents, because while, you know, a 25-year-old may do quite well with the infection, if they spread it to someone like Gen. Powell, they will not,” Reiner said. “That is the imperative for vaccination in this country.”
A very small fraction of Covid-19 deaths. There have been more than 7,000 breakthrough infection deaths in the US during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s one out of every 26,000 fully vaccinated people who has died of Covid-19, or 0.004%, according to CNN writer Devan Cole’s report on Powell. The vast majority of breakthrough deaths were among people over 65 and most were among men.
Powell’s longtime chief of staff Peggy Cifrino told CNN he was scheduled to get a vaccine booster shot this past week, but then became too ill.
CNN’s Katia Hetter writes that vaccinated people dying from Covid-19 does not mean the vaccines are ineffective. Simply put, far fewer people who get a vaccine die from Covd-19.
US health authorities are considering new guidance on boosters, both for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, for which boosters have not yet been authorized, and to mix and match different boosters, such as giving a Pfizer booster to a person initially vaccinated with the J&J vaccine.
Police unions continue vaccine standoff. I wrote here last week about police officers refusing the vaccine. That storyline has grown more important in the days since.
CNN looked at officer death rates and found far more police officers have died from Covid-19 this year than from gunfire. Covid-19 is the leading cause of death among police officers.
But many officers continue to oppose vaccine requirements. The standoff in Chicago between the police union and city government continues. Versions of that story are occurring across the country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, encouraged officers to get vaccinated during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
He pointed out vaccination is key to public safety.
“We’re not living in a vacuum as individuals. We’re living in a society, and society needs to be protected,” he said, noting the core function of police. “And you do that by not only protecting yourself but by protecting the people around you, by getting vaccinated.”
When will kids be able to get vaccinated? Some parents are counting down the days until they can get their 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated.
An FDA advisory panel is set to meet October 26 and emergency use authorization could follow days later.
The realistic timeline is still for these kids to be starting the two-shot vaccination process in early November.
When might some kids be required to get vaccinated? Some parents are up in arms. Some Californians protested vaccine requirements by pulling their kids from school Monday.
Kids aren’t currently required to get the vaccine in California. The requirement kicks in only after a vaccine gets full FDA approval. Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has full approval and only for people 16 and older.
California’s decision to add the Covid-19 vaccine to its longer list of required vaccines for school children likely would not kick in until next July.

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