Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Colin Powell, still a Republican after all these years

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Many of us on the liberal-progressive left, as well as many in and around the center, have been watching the civil war in the GOP with a certain gleeful Schadenfreude -- it just couldn't be happening to a better party. As well, I would add, many of us have taken Colin Powell's side, if we have taken a side at all, against Dear Leader Rush. (See my post on the Great Republican Purge of 2009.)

As you may remember, Powell recently said that the GOP, currently in the hands of Rush, Palin, and their rightist ilk, is in "deep trouble," a party of extremism and polarization. In response, Head Purger Rush called Powell "just another liberal" and told him to "close the loop and become a Democrat."

Here's the thing:

-- Powell isn't a liberal; and

-- Powell isn't a Democrat.

It would behoove gleeful us -- those of us who support the other side and who wish the GOP to fail (and hence who want the GOP to be in the hands of the extremists, not the far more electable moderates) -- to remember, once and for all, that Powell is not one of us (despite his late-in-the-game endorsement of Obama last year). He is, as he always has been, at least throughout his professional career, a loyal Republican. And he proved it again yesterday in Boston, in speech if not in deed, in response to Rush:

Rush Limbaugh says, 'Get out of the Republican Party.' Dick Cheney says, 'He's already out.' I may be out of their version of the Republican Party, but there's another version of the Republican Party waiting to emerge once again.

Translation: Rush says I'm not a Republican, but I am, just not one of his Republicans, and I and my side of the party will be back, just wait.

Sure, Powell's Republican Party wouldn't be as viciously and vindictively anti-Obama and anti-Democrat as the current party is, nor would it be as ideologically extremist. It would, presumably, be a big tent, at least according to Republican standards of openness, toleration, and diversity. But, also presumably, it would not just be a party of Powells. To be viable, it would need to retain its right-wing base, its conservative core, the very elements that Powell apparently so loathes.

Powell's assessment of the GOP's current problems is, for the most part, right on target. Just don't think he wants the Democrats to prevail in the long run.

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