In his article contending that race was the major factor in Powell’s endorsement Buchanan contends that in hailing Barack as a “transformational figure” whose election would “electrify our country … (and) the world,” Powell seems to testify to the centrality of Barack’s ethnicity to his decision. For what else is there about this freshman senator, who has no significant legislative accomplishment, to transform our politics and to electrify the world, other than the fact that he would be the nation’s first African-American president? This is echoed and is the central point in many of the GOP’s rationalizations for this extraordinary endorsement. In their view, why would the man that McCain described as his favorite living hero endorse the opposition? Couldn’t be that he actually meant what he said, that he gave the matter intense consideration and decided that Obama would make a better commander in chief. Could he possibly have real reasons beyond race for his reasoned decision?
In September, following McCain’s wacky statement about the Russian-Georgian conflict that “we are all Georgians,” Powell was quoted as saying, “The fact of the matter is that you have to be very careful in a situation like this not just to leap to one side or the other until you take a good analysis of the whole situation…”
Buchanan goes even further though: Understandably, Powell is being hailed by the Obama media as a profile in courage. Equally understandably, his endorsement of Obama is said by Republicans to smack of ingratitude, opportunism, and even vindictiveness toward a party to which he owes his fame and career. Ingratitude? Opportunism? A party he owes? This smacks of that good ole pre-Civil Rights “stay in your place” racism from 40+ years ago. He should have been “grateful” enough to ignore the facts that McCain/Palin may be dangerous to the country he served throughout his career? He owes the GOP for his fame and career? I think this might come as a surprise to the thousands of men and women who served under him during his distinguished 30-year military career. At this point in his life he is willing to sacrifice the safety of the people of the United States just to push any African-American candidate ahead? This assertion is so incredibly disgusting, I cannot believe they have the nerve to put it forth. GOP God Ronald Reagan trusted Powell to be his National Security Advisor.
George H. W. Bush named him chairman of the Joint Chiefs, over hundreds of more senior officers. George W. Bush made him the first African-American secretary of state. Are we to believe that there was something about these appointments that was not based on merit, that the Bushes were just being nice to the poor black general? A quid pro quo appointment or two?
And the scatter-gun attack Powell launched on the GOP ticket … suggests a man with scores to settle with the party of George W. Bush. Finally we get to the meat of the argument, that this is payback to W for setting Powell up to lie at to the UN. But since McCain is running against the Bush legacy, this makes no sense.
Yet, what kind of Republican can Powell be when he professes deep concern that McCain might choose Supreme Court justices like John Roberts and Sam Alito? Can there be no Republican with a conscience? Can there be no Republican who wants a balanced Supreme Court? Is it antithetical to the GOP for someone in the party to think differently? Is Buchanan suggesting that Powell is a closet Democrat or that he is willing to put aside his true ideology to back Obama just because he is a “brother?” This is unbelievably insulting on so many levels.
But in the last analysis, one comes back to the forbidden issue of ethnicity. For example, would Powell have endorsed Hillary, had she won the nomination? If Hillary had electrified the country, the youth, the world, and had been able to stay above the dirty politics of the right the way Obama has, perhaps he would.
I think that the most troubling thing about this to the Republicans is what Mark Halperin notes in Time Magazine, “Even after being tied to the Bush Administration and its widely disliked foreign policy decisions, Powell has maintained extraordinary popularity, with nearly three-quarters of Americans continuing to view him favorably, in part because he is perceived as a nonpartisan figure, almost above politics.” That is exactly what this is all about.