Thursday, August 14, 2008

Krazy Kristol and the Powell distraction

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On Fox News yesterday -- where else? -- Krazy Bill Kristol announced that Bush I loyalist and former Bush II secretary of state Colin Powell is going to endorse Obama at no less a venue than the Democratic convention in Denver later this month.

In response -- or, rather, in refutation -- Powell himself announced that he was not even going to the convention and that Krazy Kristol's announcement was simply wrong: "I do not have time to waste on Bill Kristol's musings. I am not going to the convention. I have made this clear."

In general, I think we should all avoid wasting time on Krazy Kristol's musings. He's a cynical partisan hack -- a propaganda-spewing bullshitter -- a walking, talking, living, breathing ulterior motive. Unfortunately, though, he's rather influential, a prominent neocon voice that speaks from prominent media platforms, including the NY Times, and cannot so easily be ignored.

So what's he up to here, given that it's wise not to take anything he says at face value?

Of course, Powell could be the one misleading us here. It's possible. It's not like he's ever been the most straight up guy in Washington. Maybe he intends on making a surprise appearance at the convention, an appearance that would genuinely wow the media. Maybe he intends on endorsing Obama after all, a very damaging endorsement for McCain. Hey, maybe he'll be Obama's running mate. It's possible.

But not likely. Powell is an egotistical opportunist, but he's also exceedingly cautious (except, presumably, when he's at the U.N. making fabricated cases for war) and exceedingly loyal (it's not like he's been harshly critical of Bush II and the conduct of the Iraq War and Occupation). And it just wouldn't be like him to break ranks, both with his party and with his former superiors, and endorse Obama at such a prominent event. Afterwards, maybe, once the campaign is underway in earnest, but not at the convention.

On this, I tend to think that Andrew Sullivan may be right:

It's too ballsy a move for Powell. I'm also inherently suspicious of Kristol's motives. If Powell were considering such an endorsement, Kristol would do all he can to derail it. Prematurely leaking it, creating a fire-storm and forcing Powell to deny is one way to pre-empt such a move. It's vital for the neocons to prevent Obama gaining traction with serious foreign policy machers.

I also agree with Andrew that a Powell endorsement of Obama would make sense: "Powell understands how deep a hole the US is in internationally, and how only Obama truly has a chance to get the country back on its feet. It's the impulse of a patriot. And maybe the smears have made him mad."

Maybe, but Powell has already had ample opportunity to express whatever anger and frustration he is feeling. And we haven't heard much from him. I doubt that "the smears" have finally pushed him over the edge. Also, I just don't think he's such a determined patriot. His primary impulse is military-style loyalty, not patriotism. Why else would he have done the Bushies' bidding for so long? He may have reasoned that he was doing right by his country all along, but he must have known, at least at some level, that what was right for the Bushies was hardly right for the country. Either that or he was delusional all along.

Regardless, I would welcome a Powell endorsement of Obama -- mainly because he was with the Bushies for so long and because he remains, undeservedly, an immensely credible figure in American politics -- I just don't see it happening. Or, at least, certainly not at the convention.

Which leaves us with Krazy Kristol and his ulterior motives. He has set his propagandistic sights on Powell, and there is fear behind his kraziness.

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  • I usually diagree with you, but I think that's exactly right - Kristol is trying to pull Powell "out of the closet," so to speak, to either force his hand, or end any possibility of an Obama endorsement. My guess is that Powell stays publicly neutral.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:21 AM  

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