Effect Measure

Annals of McCain – Palin, XXXI: Powell

I’m not a fan of Colin Powell. He was there and helped start this catastrophic war. Maybe he tried to resist it in private but in public he shouldered the weight of selling it. He bears responsibility for it. He knew better but he was, as always, the good soldier. So now Powell has broken with his party (he is a longtime Republican and has served as an aparatchik in Republican administrations). He has endorsed Barack Obama for President. The usual suspects are already calling him a racist and a suggestion he is a secret Muslim can’t be far behind.

I don’t know if Powell’s nod will have any effect at all on the race. Since I hope Obama wins (and then I can start beating up on him right away, since the man is too conservative for me), I hope it is good for Obama. What interests me most about it is what insight it gives to the thinking of moderate Republicans in general, in particular, their reaction to the dishonorable and dishonest way McCain has chosen to run his campaign. Powell says in his interview on Meet the Press yesterday, that this played a part in his decision:

Q: Sir, what role did McCain’s negativity play in your decision?

POWELL: It troubled me. You know, we have two wars. We have economic problems. We have health problems. We have education problems. We have infrastructure problems. We have problems around the world with our allies. And so those are the problems the American people wanted to hear about, not about Mr. Ayers, not about who is a Muslim and who’s not a Muslim. Those kinds of images going out on al Jazeera are killing us around the world. And we have got to say to the world it doesn’t make any difference who you are or what you are. If you’re an American you’re an American.

And this business of, for example, a congressman from Minnesota who’s going around saying let’s examine all congressmen to see who is pro-America or not pro-America. We have got to stop this kind of nonsense and pull ourselves together and remember that our great strength is in our unity and in our diversity. And so that really was driving me. And to focus on people like Mr. Ayers, these trivial issues for the purpose of suggesting that somehow Mr. Obama would have some kind of terrorists’ inclinations, I thought that was over the top. It was beyond just good political fighting back and forth. I think it went beyond. And then to sort of throw in this subtle Muslim connection. You know, he’s a Muslim and a terrorist. And it was taking root. And we can’t judge our people and we can’t hold our elections on that kind of basis. And so yes, that kind of negativity troubles me and the constant shifting of the argument.

I was troubled a couple of weeks ago when in the middle of the crisis the campaign said we’re going to go negative and they announced it. We’re going to go negative and attack his character through Bill Ayers. And now I guess the message this week is we’re going to call him a socialist. Mr. Obama is now a socialist because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have. Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who pay it in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there’s nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more, who should be paying less. And for us to say that makes you a socialist I think is an unfortunate characterization that isn’t accurate. And I don’t want my taxes raised. I don’t want anybody else’s taxes raised. But I also want to see our infrastructure fixed. I don’t want to have a $12 trillion national debt and I don’t want to see an annual deficit that’s over $500 billion heading toward a trillion. So how do we deal with all of this? (via Americablog)

I hope this represents many others. The McCain campaign has now brazenly walked into what should have been forbidden territory. I guess McCain figures that not only does he have nothing to lose (his honor and reputation are already down the crapper) but anything goes. Clearly for Powell not anything goes. How many others?


  1. #1 eddie
    October 20, 2008

    I’m glad to hear him making specific reference to Michelle Bachmann (didn’t name her, but…), like it was the final straw. Hope this message gets across and nips that stuff in the bud.

    My main reservation about Powell is thw WMD thing. It was he that held up the vial of… [and where did he mail it to after?] at the UN.

  2. #2 Victoria
    October 20, 2008

    The measure of the man, Colin Powell, is that he has, in fact, by endorsing Barack Obama, acknowledged his and the Republican government’s failures, in particular the invasion of Iraq. Colin Powell has been a staunch and very loyal Republican for years, and it must have been difficult for him to change his core values. I believe that the lessons that Colin Powell has learnt, will make him a very wise adviser to Barack Obama. Great intellectual strengths can be gained by those that acknowledge where they have gone wrong and those that see things in a new light.

  3. #3 Dylan
    October 21, 2008

    McCain and Company have one week to pull a very substantial rabbit out of a very tiny, very tattered hat; the window necessary for tactical maneuvering is rapidly closing before their very eyes. They’re trying desperately to turn Pennsylvania around (huge waste of time and money; they have little of either remaining); it’s not going to happen (they’re experiencing one huge, collective delusion, here)…too little, and too late. They’re trying, now, with an equal display of utter desperation, to hold on to Missouri, Ohio, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, and Virginia. Obama doesn’t need all of those states…but McCain does. Virginia is probably already lost; Florida also appears to be slipping from their grasp. The Obama campaign can make them bleed many, many millions of dollars, in their effort to try to hold on to Ohio. And it will. If the Republicans bet the farm on that one, they will lose their ass. If they fail to bet the farm on that one, they will likewise lose their ass.

    To defend pink states that are now teetering on the cusp of secession, McCain will be forced, in the waning days of the election, to surrender all pretense of slugging it out almost anywhere else; along the Eastern seaboard, most of the Midwest, all of the North East, the West Coast, and in three of the “Four Corners” states; in effect, everywhere but the deep South, and that corridor of states that descends down from Idaho through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas.

    The Republicans will lie, cheat, steal, and intimidate whomever they possibly can, to maintain control of the White House; they will do everything within their power, short of murder (actually, if they thought that offing Dick Cheney might generate a few sympathy votes, then I don’t believe that there would be much resistance within the party to that idea). The Obama-Biden campaign has to exert the absolute maximum amount of pressure on these slimeballs, that they can possibly generate, in the remaining two weeks of this election; and exercise it to the full extent necessary to keep these rodents under their heel, and unceremoniously grind them into the dirt. This race is over on November 5 (assuming that the Supremes don’t have to become involved), and not one second earlier.

    The Republicans made a profound, and fatal error, this time around. They failed to take into account the full fury and righteous indignation that they have aroused, in people just like myself. Those who are going to engineer their political demise, as a result of being so astonishingly ill abused, at the hands of these criminal scumbags, during the course of the last eight years. They have no idea whatsoever of the boundless depth of our anger. They unleashed it, and they are going to reap their reward in early November. Last Saturday night, at a double birthday party involving my daughter and a friend that she is in sixth grade with, I got into a discussion with the other girl’s father (he’s a professor in the linguistics department at UCSC, and his views on this, and other subjects, largely parallel my own ); I told him that we’re going to win this election the old fashioned, Republican way…we’re going to buy it. I went on to explain that, in the course of the previous month, I had contributed $2,000.00 to the Obama-Biden campaign. I am not wealthy (I’m a retired cop, with a net income of $40,000.00 a year, and with an eleven year old daughter, whose mother receives $1000.00 a month in child support payments from me)…what I am is pissed-off beyond measure. I gave the campaign $600.00 in September, in two installments; and then, after watching the McCain-Palin campaign descend into mongrel politics of the worst, most disgustingly vile sort, and utter character assassination, I decided that it was time to fight back, with these despicable motherfuckers. In October I gave the campaign another $1,400.00, in two installments; I considered this to be an investment in my daughter’s future, so I was very happy to do it. This was unquestionably money that was very well spent; rarely do I part with that sort of sum with a more agreeable sense that is going where it will do the most good.

    When I picked my daughter up at her mother’s house, the Saturday before last, her mother and I discussed the current political situation. I told her that I had contributed $2000.00 to the Obama-Biden campaign, and then I told her that I sincerely believe that, of the roughly 3,000,000 Obama contributors (my estimate, at the time), there are likely 100,000 or more, just like me. I’m convinced of that. That means that we will contribute $200,000,000.00 in the last two months of the election. I also told her that I expected that the remaining 2,900,000 contributors would give in various amounts, $5.00…$10.00…$50.00…etc., to such an extent that they would generate an additional $50,000,000.00. Yesterday, it was announced by the Obama campaign that their September contributions totaled $150,000,000.00. Although the October contributions will not be announced until two weeks after the election, I promise you that they will exceed the September total by a significant margin. When the Republicans lose this one, it will sound the death knell for the ultra-conservative, far right wing of the Republican Party. And they have nowhere else to go. We are learning how best to play this game, and, if we are wise, we will not lose again, for a very long time. Trust me.

  4. #4 Dylan
    October 21, 2008

    Ooops! Make that two of four, in the “Four Corners” states. Utah, and Arizona, will both undoubtedly go for McCain.

  5. #5 Lrod
    October 21, 2008

    Dylan, Excellent post! I am as angry as you are.

  6. #6 Kolleen
    October 21, 2008

    I respect Colin Powell. I don’t always agree with him, especially when it comes to the mess in Iraq. The latest right wing attack on Barack Obama is being led by a lawyer out of Illinois who has filed a suit in court to force Barack to disclose his birth certificate. Those who are ferverently following this pointless action are sending money to this guy to help him fight his cause. I bet he is making a bundle swindling people who are so hooked on fear that they believe any shred of evidence that Barack Obama is not who he says he is…I posted a response recently that said institutional racism is behind much of the fear or disbelief that an African American male can be trusted to tell us the truth about his past. I was then accused of being racist myself. I know there is a lot of fear right now surfacing in this country, but it has been there forever if you look at the country’s history and how it was originally started. Fear of religious persecution among other reasons, was a big motivating factor for people traveling across the Ocean to get here. I wish people would deal with their fear more effectively rather than transfer it to the next “fearful” issue. The chaos that is ultimately created by the fear will continue to wreak havoc on the lives of many Americans as they continue to focus on and expand their fear.

  7. #7 David
    October 22, 2008

    If you are going to try to impress folks by using big words, at least spell them correctly. I did not know the work “aparatchik” so I looked it up at dictionary.com. The word was not found, but “apparatchik” was the top alternate suggestion. I think it is what you meant. Of course you can correct the misspelling and then delete my comment and it will be like it never happened… sort of like all politicians do, alter history to cover themselves ;-).

  8. #8 revere
    October 22, 2008

    David: This is a Russian word, not at all meant to impress. It was commonly used in the Cold War era and familiar to newspaper readers and others of that time. Since it is transliterated there is no “correct” spelling in English. You will see it rendered many ways.

  9. #9 Ana
    October 23, 2008

    Hmm. No. (Can’t resist the rare opportunity to correct revere!)

    It means ‘creature of the apparatus’ so in English it should normally conserve that link, i.e. the semantic root’s spelling in Eng. (It has nothing to do with ‘apart’ such as can be found in ‘apartheid.’)

    A letter for letter transcription would also render 2 Ps as the Russian also spells it with 2Ps, as it is from the Latin – 2Ps. So the spelling, or transliteration, is unambiguous and follows usual rules.

    Eng. is quite free in its rendition of foreign words..it does overall tend to favor keeping foreign flavor… for. ex. the /chic/ part is spelt CHIK (as in the Russian) and not CHICK (Eng. spelling) or CHIC (French spelling) – of course the latter two have different meanings in English.

    Every other alphabetic script spells this word in the same way, afaik.

    Your spelling error is the most frequent one for that word. (However that form is used as a joke name, etc.) Second is omitting the T (and wiki calls that an alternative spelling, but getting into that would be too long), third is using CHIC.

    Apologies for the trivia.

  10. #10 revere
    October 23, 2008

    Ana: LOL. Thanks. Interesting. I did look it up and noted that variant spelling fairly often. I did study Russian for several years (in the Sputnik era!) but the rules of transliteration weren’t taught. So I stand corrected. Mea culpa, David. h/t Ana.

  11. #11 lahana kapsülü
    October 23, 2008

    I know there is a lot of fear right now surfacing in this country, but it has been there forever if you look at the country’s history and how it was originally started. Fear of religious persecution among other reasons, was a big motivating factor for people traveling across the Ocean to get here.

  12. #12 mistah charley, ph.d.
    October 24, 2008

    Footnotes to previous comments:


    Google finds 14,500 instances of aparatchik

    201,000 instances of apparatchik


    Fear-based beliefs about Obama are discussed in a thorough, thoughtful, thought-provoking review at


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