Colin Powell’s plea for decencyOctober 19, 2008 at 8:57 pm | Posted in U.S. Politics | 1 Comment
I don’t post Presidential endorsements on this blog because they generally have little impact on the course of an election. I make an exception here because Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama is interesting on a number of levels. At its most basic, it happens to be one of the most eloquent, well-argued and persuasive endorsements the Senator has received, and at a time when both campaigns are transmitting nothing but white noise, it’s nice to hear a more thoughtful, measured assessment of the choices facing Americans.
But there’s a lot more going on here. Much of Powell’s endorsement is a plea for decency; whilst he softly stamps on the lie about Obama’s faith, he also attacks the implicit suggestion that there is something wrong with being Muslim, and speaks of a young Islamic American who was killed serving his country in Iraq. There is a tacit acknowledgement here that America’s public sphere is ailing just as badly as the economy.
He is as explicit as he can be about who is responsible for this startling decay; the former Secretary of State is horrified by what the Republican Party has become, dismantles the attacks on Obama’s patriotism and questions the judgement of selecting a woman who is neither qualified nor ready to assume the highest office in the land. It’s no secret that Powell was the most moderate member of George W. Bush’s cabinet, but he goes so far as to say that the party as a whole is so far to the right that it cannot be trusted with the power of appointing new judges to the Supreme Court. In a later video explaining his endorsement, he attacks the Minnesota representative who asked the media to investigate which members of Congress are anti-American, and even defends Obama on taxes. Yes, a Reagan Republican defended a liberal Democrat on the issue of tax. That’s how extreme the GOP’s rhetoric has become.
In terms of horserace politics, this matters little; it won’t close the deal for Obama any more than Joe Lieberman’s endorsement helped McCain. But what makes it significant is that this is the most high profile Republican yet to warn that the party is killing itself, has lost touch with the political centre, is alienating its most moderate supporters and is undeserving of power.
Whilst he’ll be villified & ridiculed in the short term, in the barren years to come he will receive the sincere gratitude of those who try to save the party from itself.