Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell for Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Needless to say, the political world is all abuzz today over Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama this morning on Meet the Press.

Mustang Bobby posted the clips -- Powell on MTP, then outside the studio.

For coverage in the MSM, see CNN and MSNBC.


Needless to say, conservatives are going nuts -- or, rather, getting even nuttier -- in response:

Take Michelle Malkin, for example -- or don't take her, it's up to you, and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't -- who calls Powell's endorsement "a triumph of hope over reality." Of course, "reality" for Malkin is a fantasyland for the rest of us. She blames Powell for not taking the Obama-Ayers association seriously enough, for blaming the GOP for spreading smears and slurs about Obama, and for finding the GOP too "narrow." As inhabitants of real reality know, the Obama-Ayers assocation is insignificant, the Republican smear machine, including McCain and Palin themselves, has been operating at full throttle to try to bring down Obama, and the Republican Party is, and has been for a long time, a party populated by theocrats, neocons, and neo-liberals, with a mob-like base of extremists.

It gets even more amusing when Malkin declares that "[t]he orgy of Obamedia attention Powell will receive the next 24 hours is disproportionate to its importance." It should come as no surprise that she doesn't mention the fact that the mainstream press, the supposedly liberal media she so loathes, has spent the better part of the past decade or so in bed with McCain, happily pumping up and stroking the phony McCain myth. Indeed, what McCain has experienced over the course of this campaign is nothing compared to what Obama has endured, with seemingly every detail of Obama's past dredged up for prolonged examination.


Malkin predicts that "people outside the Beltway bubble" will respond to Powell's endorsement with a yawn. I disagree. Here's how I put it on Friday:

I don't want to overstate the case -- endorsements don't usually mean that much, after all -- but I think a Powell endorsement at this point, with the three debates behind us and with Obama having opened up solid leads in the polls and with time running out, would be a significant coup for Obama. It would give him a high-profile boost to his own foreign policy credibility (that is, it would act as a major vote of confidence -- even though polls show he already has the confidence of voters even in what was thought to be one of McCain's strongest areas) and there would likely be overwhelmingly positive media coverage next week (certainly the establishment press still likes Powell a lot). As well, it could be just what Obama needs to win over remaining independents and "undecideds," those voters seemingly waiting for something, anything, to compel them to vote one way or the other.

I stand by that today.


At the very least, Malkin doesn't accuse Powell of racism. In her view, it's not Obama's race that attracted his endorsement, it's Obama's "social liberalism."

I don't agree with that either.

Powell may be more socially liberal than most Republicans, but he's not one to base his vote on such concerns (other than to note that the Republican Party is too "narrow" for him).

Here's how Powell himself put it: "I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation coming onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Sen. Barack Obama."

In addition, he praised Obama specifically on the economy and foreign policy.

Malkin and her ilk simply don't get Obama's appeal, in terms of both style and substance, and it should come as no surprise that they don't get why he would appeal to Powell, and why Powell's endorsement matters.


Other conservatives are displaying overt racism, however.

For example, George Will, on ABC's This Week this morning, suggested that what is at play here is race: "[I]t seems to me if we had the tools to measure we'd find that Barack Obama gets two votes because he's black for every one he loses because he's black because so much of this country is so eager, a, to feel good about itself by doing this, but more than that to put paid to the whole Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson game of political rhetoric."

In other words, Obama's appeal is racial, and hence ultimately racist: People are supporting him largely (perhaps even mostly) because he's black. Given that he said this in response to a question about the Powell endorsement, it would seem that, to Will, Powell's endorsement is racist: one black man supporting another.

Rush Limbaugh was characteristically even more direct: "Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with."

As usual, Limbaugh will come up with whatever he wants to come up with. For him, as for Will, this is all about race.

You want racism? It's right there, as usual, on the right.


Finally, a word from Steve Benen on the impact of the endorsement:

[A]s a purely political matter, Powell's endorsement of Obama strikes me as a fairly significant political development. Powell is arguably the nation's most popular and most respected Republican. He has been a friend of McCain's for a quarter of a century, has seen up close what kind of leader McCain would be, and even contributed to McCain's campaign.

And yet, as of this morning, Powell is officially an Obama supporter -- and is officially dejected about what's become of McCain's campaign and the Republican Party.


I'd just add that Powell didn't just tacitly offer a vague endorsement, he offered his unapologetic support to Obama, while blasting what's become of his old friend, John McCain. He sounded like a man who barely recognizes what's become of today's GOP. For self-described moderates and independents, Powell remains a widely admired figure. What's more, few if any Americans enjoy the media adulation that Powell has, which means coverage of this morning's announcement is likely to be very strong.

With that in mind, Powell's endorsement this morning may very well have a significant impact.

I think it will.

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  • Rush Limbaugh statement reflects so much on him and his racism. He is basically saying that Colin Powell is dumb enough to vote for a black guy just because he's black. Yet Colin Powell is one of the few people left from the Bush years that still has a shred of respect from this country's citizens and it's because Powell has common sense and isn't in the dirt of party politics.

    But it seems that the only person voting based on color is Mr. Limbaugh and his crazed listeners.

    By Blogger Grant Haws, at 12:01 AM  

  • I have been intrigued by Colin Powell's performance as a Republican. I have seen nothing in any of his actions to indicate that he makes his decisions based on race. However I see in him a person that carefully weighs his options and makes a decision based on the best possible result. Everytime John McCain opens his mouth to demonize the opposing party, you can almost physically watch his support shrinking. The days of demonizing a particular polital party are over. Americans are intelligent enough to sift fact from fiction and these elementary school tactics won't work for the good of anyone's campaign. Americans want substance and appearantly so does Colin Powell. Mr Limbaugh, please be advised,,, you're next.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:05 AM  

  • Colin Powell was George Bush�s most trusted advisor. He sold the war in Iraq to the American people and the U.N. Selling Barrack Obama should be a �slam dunk�.

    By Blogger clatech, at 9:34 AM  

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