I like to be a nice guy myself (blog title notwithstanding), but I think this take is a bit generous. Plenty of good men and women have gone to Washington and become corrupted by its influence. Instead of doing the right things and pushing the country in the right direction, they become more concerned with "getting along by going along." They give a little here and a little there with the hope of eventually getting something in return, but it doesn't happen. And you'd think that eventually this would bore its way through their thick skulls, but the empty platitudes dropped on them by their scheming opponents blind them to the truth - they've become the useful idiots of the left.
Newt has much to contribute to the GOP, I'm sure. But he's been far too inconsistent over the years to generate the kind of broad support that would make him a successful national politician on the Right.
Newt is a respected part of what was for the Right. And as an intellect, he can offer much more. But some future face of the GOP that can win he simply is not and will never be, again.
Back in 1994, Gingrich was at the vanguard of the conservative movement with the Contract With America. His star has long since faded (along with the Contract's promises), and what he really wants these days is a return to relevancy. A little corner of the spotlight. The Republicans and conservatives will let him give him the occasional convention speech, but he's moved off the 'A'-list with the rest of the guys who were almost, but not quite, great back in the day. But the left - the left will give him attention, flatter him with praises of his importance in being a crucial bridge between the Right and the Left, and allow him to play The Statesman (all the while snickering under their breath). Gingrich bought this hook, line and sinker, and then gave them a big wet kiss when they landed him on the boat. Let's not give him credit for being anything more than he's become - a worn-out, dried-up old attention whore.
As for Powell, I've never really seen him as anything other than a political opportunist. Republicans embraced him with thinly-concealed fantasies that he was The Great Black Hope that would make them look less pasty-white everyone who's not, well, pasty-white. Powell went along with it because it kept him relevant. Now that the Republican party is in shambles he sees no need to kowtow to them, but he's trying to limit the amount of bridge burning he does as he jumps to the ascendant movement. Powell's post-military career he been all about his own agenda and not that of a particular party. I'm not sure about every nuance of his beliefs, but they seem to be much more Progressive than anything that could be described as conservative or libertarian. While this makes me respect him far more than I could a turncoat like Gingrich, it doesn't necessarily make him "friendly."
In any case, don't mourn the "loss" of these guys - it's time to look to the future.