Jerry found himself wandering on the streets of Manhattan, a ghostly vagrant, for months when he saw Jolene standing on the street, chatting with a fellow secretary while inhaling her cigarette as quickly as she could. "Allstate finally paid up," she said, inhaling deeply, "I couldn't believe the taxes they took out, the bastards."
"Whaddaya gonna do with the money?" asked her colleague, squinting as she smoked furiously to finish the Marlboro before their ten-minute break ran out.
"Jerry always said you'd hafta be crazy not to put it into the market," Jolene said, "I wanna honor his wishes, he was everything for me. And also he said you could make 20% a year."
"20% a year? Shit!" said her colleague, coughing. Then she added thoughtfully, "I wish Allan'd worked on a higher floor. The schmuck -- naturally he'd work on the third floor."
Powell Rift Exposed
Senior Bush Administration sources tell of a widening rift between the hardline stand represented by National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The policy dispute vis-‡-vis Iraq broke out into the open last week, causing confusion in Washington and abroad. Yet there are greater fears among both Republicans and leading African-American figures that the Powell-Rice clash could have long-ranging consequences in relations within the black community.
Powell is known as the more moderate of the two, while Rice made her reputation as a right-wing nationalist and protege of Brent Scowcroft in the late 1980s. She had always advocated a tough line against the Soviet Union. Today, Rice is one of the architects of the Bush Administration's America-First policies, something that many say has angered Powell and made his job difficult.
The most shocking news about their dispute, revealed recently to the eXile by reliable State Department and White House sources, centers not so much on their differences over policy, but rather, over personal issues.
"Powell is not happy that the President listens more to Condi than to him," said a senior State Department official. "It's a matter of skin color. He's angry because he's a light-skinned Caribbean-Negro, while she's a dark-skinned African-American. Powell just doesn't understand why a dark-skinned black woman would be taken more seriously by a rich white guy than he, a light-skinned Negro."
Indeed, much of the public policy rift over whether the administration should seek to reinstate weapons inspectors in Iraq is based not so much on policy differences as on complexion.
"Last fall, Powell was demanding that we strike Iraq without delay and without regard to loss of life," said a source who works in the East Wing of the White House. "Earlier this year, when Condi took over the Iraq attack policy team, Powell switched sides and accused her of endangering America's interests by advocating a military solution. He said that it was 'typical of women of your complexion to stir up problems,' while Condi replied that Powell's complexion was 'more yellow than brown, except where the nose is concerned.'"
Several such meetings have devolved into personal shouting matches between the two high-ranking black officials.
According to witnesses, the debate came to a head when, during a heated meeting with Bush, Powell, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld, Powell asked Rice if it was true that darker blacks have a different odor.
"I think I speak for all the rest of us here," Powell is quoted by sources as saying during the meeting to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "when I say that I've never tried black coffee in bed, nor do I really intend to. But I am curious about the smell."
Rice was apparently taken aback when Cheney added, "Speak for yourself, Colin." He qualified his statement later as a "joke," while Powell laughed heartily.
"Powell really pushed her. He said, 'Can you confirm or disconfirm this prevailing prejudice, Ms. Rice?'"
Condi snapped back that she wanted to see Powell's genitalia to see "what black genes, if any, he had."
At another meeting, Powell attempted to entice Rice to join him in the West Wing bathroom for some "rock," an offer that people close to Rice describe as a "crude trap."
"Rice would never smoke crack in the White House bathroom and Colin knows better," said the source, who refused to comment on whether Rice smoked crack off of the White House grounds.
At another meeting on nuclear weapons proliferation, Powell brought two bars of chocolate, one milk chocolate and one dark bitter chocolate. He offered both to the President, who chose milk chocolate, though he only ate three squares. It was perceived at the time as a mild endorsement of Powell over Rice, and briefly, in fact, the President did adjust his Israeli policy to coincide with Powell's before abruptly switching back.
To which the President replied, "Naw, I just like the gooier stuff."
The President for his part said that he was surprised that people could perceive a difference between the complexions of Rice and Powell. "It must be a black thing, because to me, you both look alike," President Bush said in an early June BBQ he arranged to placate the two enemies. "Sometimes, I even get the two of you mixed up with White House domestics."
A presidential source claimed that the Powell-Rice dispute was "unfortunate."
"As the president has told them time and time again, they both share so much more in common than what divides them. Both came from the slaves of ancestors, and both overcame those obstacles. For some reason, Colin keeps denying that his ancestors were slaves. As if."