One man could have changed the course of history, and he had the opportunity to do so handed to him on a silver platter, free for the taking. Who is that man; Can you guess? He was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a variety of command and staff positions and rising to the rank of General. He was Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989 while retaining his Army commission as a lieutenant general. In April 1989, after his tenure with the National Security Council, Powell was promoted to four-star general under President George H. W. Bush and briefly served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command (FORSCOM), overseeing all Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. He became the third general since World War II to reach four-star rank without ever serving as a division commander, joining Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alexander Haig. Later he was selected him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He ascended from chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the elder Bush's administration to secretary of state under his son. That man is Colin Powell For a time, that looked quite possible that he would run for president and win. Through 1995 there was hope that Powell would run for president. He led in polls of Republican primary voters. The same surveys suggested he was capable of beating President Bill Clinton. Powell could have been elected in 1996. The first black president of the United States being a Republican would have been a significant development, one that might have mitigated, if not averted, the ugly racialization of our politics. Powell would have been a moderate not too strongly associated with the left or the right, likely allowing him to assemble an electoral coalition unlike anything we can imagine today. As a Republican and the first black president, and the winner of the Gulf War, the newly minted Republican congress would have given him anything he wanted. The internet boom would have happened anyway; perhaps Powell's policies would have been even more pro-growth than second-term Clinton's. Sadly, Powell did not run. Instead, the GOP had the sad farewell tour masquerading as a presidential campaign embarked upon by the otherwise heroic Bob Dole. A good man, but he had no chance of beating Bill Clinton, and Clinton won his second term. A President Powell might have returned us to the era of good feelings under Reagan. A booming economy, a popular president backed by independents, no Whitewater investigations, no Monica Lewinsky, no impeachment. And maybe only one President Bush? If 9/11 had happened under a President Powell's, the US might have been less likely to respond by waging a second war in Iraq. Our response to 9/11 may well have been limited to hitting Afghanistan, keeping the international coalition against terrorism intact under a president who had been part of winning a war. If you look at the past 20-plus years of American politics — the Clinton embarrassments (and later the Hillary embarrassments), the Bush-Cheney wars, the horrible reign of Barack Obama — wouldn't you have wanted to avoid a lot of it? Hindsight is 20-20, but Powell looks like he might have been our best bet for doing so. Author: Me.