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Editorial: Battle in the GOP to prove intriguing

The battle over the soul of the Republican Party is now playing out in public as retired General Colin Powell versus former Vice President Dick Cheney and conservative broadcaster pundit Rush Limbaugh continue their debate.

It is an interesting public dispute within the Grand Old Party.

Limbaugh and Cheney are no fans of Powell, the former general and secretary of state. Limbaugh says Powell is not a true-enough Republican and should leave the GOP. Cheney says Powell has already left the Republican Party.

Powell says the Republican Party is in "deep trouble" and laid blame at Limbaugh's feet due to his nastiness, which is diminishing the GOP and corrupting public life.

Powell and Limbaugh have exchanged public statements Tuesday and Wednesday as they debated the GOP's future.

This Republican fight will escalate this weekend as Powell is scheduled to appear Sunday on Face The Nation on CBS. He will discuss national security, the torture debate and the future of the Republican Party.

The interesting part of this debate, especially coming before Memorial Day, is the criticism of Powell the veteran by two non-veterans -- Cheney and Limbaugh.

Powell is a former four-star general, serving in the Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush. He also served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush during the Iraq War.

Cheney served as secretary of defense under Bush I and served as vice president under Bush II. He also served in Congress. He never served in the military after receiving multiple deferments during the Vietnam era because, as he said, "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."

Limbaugh has never served in the military. While he was eligible for the draft, he had a high number and a possible medical disqualification.

Now if the experiences were reversed, Cheney and Limbaugh would likely cite the lack of military experience of their political opponent, would they not?

Thus the serious debate within the Republican party over the torture policy, the future of the U.S. military, the situation in Iraq, Pakistan and Guantanamo Bay is occurring between one Republican -- Powell -- a man with a 35 years of military service and two Republicans -- Cheney and Limbaugh -- who never served in the U.S. military.

Now that is interesting, is it not? We believe this will be an intriguing dialogue.