Former secretaries of state troubled by political discourse

Former Secretaries of State Dr. Madeleine Albright and Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), left, are interviewed by CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux on Tuesday Oct 30, 2018, in Omaha, Neb. The two say they're horrified by the anger, tribalism and distortions that stain politics today.(Kent Sievers/The World-Herald via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Former presidential Cabinet members Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell said they’re horrified by the anger, tribalism and distortions that stain current politics.

Albright joined the retired Army general during a lecture Tuesday at Creighton University in Omaha. The former secretaries of state blamed the nation’s toxic discourse for the pipe bombs mailed last week to several of President Donald Trump’s critics and for the massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

“I’m deeply troubled by the direction we’ve gone,” said Albright, the secretary of state under Democratic President Bill Clinton and a former ambassador to the United Nations. “When I travel abroad, people ask me, ‘What is going on?'”

Powell, who held high-ranking foreign policy posts for three Republican presidents, said he’s heard the same.

“We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren’t true,” he said. “It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered.”

Both also decried the demonization of immigrants, saying the nation became strong by welcoming them. Powell’s parents emigrated from Jamaica, while Albright came to the U.S. as an 11-year-old refugee from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Some of her relatives were Jewish, and 26 died in the Holocaust.

Powell described the nation’s multicultural democracy as “our gift to the rest of the world.”

“That’s the American dream,” he said. “That’s what makes America great.”

Albright became Clinton’s secretary of state in 1997 and left the office after the end of Clinton’s second term in 2001.

Powell was named President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser in 1987, was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush during the Persian Gulf War, and served from 2001 to 2004 as President George W. Bush’s secretary of state.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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