Colin Powell dead at 84, Biden joins former presidents in paying tribute

A series of tributes from across the political spectrum followed this week’s announcement that former Secretary of State Colin Powell died as a result of complications from a COVID-19 infection.

President Joe Biden was among the prominent politicians who offered kind words and condolences — but his predecessor was not as charitable in his statement on the matter.

“Hope that happens to me someday”

Former President Donald Trump slammed Powell as a “RINO,” or Republican in name only, who should be remembered for entrenching the United States in a protracted war in Iraq.

Powell, who headed the State Department under former President George W. Bush between 2001 and 2005, was the first African-American to serve in the role. He previously served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the prior Bush administration and as national security adviser to former President Ronald Reagan.

His legacy was tainted by misleading testimony to the United Nations in which he claimed that weapons of mass destruction in Iraq warranted a military invasion of that country in 2003.

For his part, Trump decried the “Fake News Media” for treating Powell “so beautifully” in various posthumous articles about his life and public service.

“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday,” the former president said. “He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!”

Powell’s underlying health issues

Although Powell was a longtime Republican, he made waves in 2008 by endorsing Democratic nominee Barack Obama. He followed suit in subsequent elections and backed Biden last year in his bid against Trump.

Like other Trump critics within the GOP, Powell ultimately left the party for good, citing the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill as the final straw.

Biden joined previous presidents — with the notable exception of Trump — in issuing statements depicting Powell as a patriot who served his country admirably. Obama called him “an example of what American can and should be if we wish to remain the last, best hope of earth.

Outside of the political realm, Powell’s death from COVID-19 led to speculation about the efficacy of available vaccines. Medical experts noted that although he was fully inoculated, underlying health problems and his advanced age made him more susceptible to the virus.

Powell had been receiving treatment for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that weakened his immune system. Although much rarer than among the unvaccinated population, reports show that thousands of fully vaccinated Americans have also died from COVID-19.

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