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?