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COLIN POWELL and Norman Schwarzkopf have been...


COLIN POWELL and Norman Schwarzkopf have been mentioned in recent weeks as possible vice presidential candidates.

I may be wrong about this, but I don't believe there has ever been a vice president who had been a career general.

Dan Quayle was a National Guard enlisted man, George Bush was a junior naval officer, Walter Mondale was an Army enlisted man, Ted Agnew was a junior Army officer, Hubert Humphrey was a civilian, Lyndon Johnson was a junior naval officer, Dick Nixon was also, Alben Barkley was a civilian. I think you have to go all the way back to Calvin Coolidge's sidekick, Charles Gates Dawes, to find a senior military man in the vice presidency.

Dawes was a lawyer-banker who served in World War I as a brigadier general and who became famous for overpaying for military supplies. When a congressional committee quizzed him about this, he became a sort of national folk hero by replying, "Sure we paid. We didn't dicker. We would have paid horse prices for sheep if sheep could pull artillery to the front. Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books. We were trying to win the war!"

"Hell and Maria" Dawes, as he became known, is a perfect example of why generals -- even reserve ones -- don't make good vice presidents. They don't like taking orders.

Dawes was the first director of the Bureau of the Budget, won a Nobel Prize for working out international debt problems left over from the war, and some thought he might be headed for the White House when Coolidge offered him the next to last rung up the ladder. But as vice president he made Coolidge mad by telling him he didn't care to attend Cabinet meetings -- and by sleeping through a close Senate vote that the administration lost on a tie vote that the vice president could have broken had he been there.

An interesting thing about the Colin Powell speculation is that he is being thought of as a running mate by all three candidates. Or so the Washington speculation goes.

He would give outsider Ross Perot a good right hand man who knows Washington. He would give Bill Clinton the same, plus motivate a very lethargic black vote, without which Clinton cannot hope to win the election. Powell would give George Bush a way to deal with his Quayle problem, especially if General Schwarzkopf ends up on the Perot ticket, threatening Bush's hold on the flag-factory vote.

Another insider Perot may be considering is former U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. Another was Warren Rudman, the New Hampshire Republican who is retiring from the Senate this year. But he said yesterday he's not available.

Not bad, Perot (if in fact Powell, Kirkpatrick and Rudman are on your list): a black, a woman and a Jew. This ought to help you with the politically correct crowd that has been fuming since you said in a radio interview that your barber is an Indian -- and that it sure took nerve to let an Indian cut your hair.

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