Monday, October 20, 2008

Further Thoughts on Colin Powell

I suppose that I'm too much of an optimist to hope that in the 24 hours since Colin Powell announced his support of Senator Obama, those who were vehemently opposed to that endorsement (and who were making comments to that effect) would have at least taken the time to listen to the entire interview on "Meet the Press." Again, even though I'm disappointed by the announcement, I thought Powell gave a very eloquent explanation as to why he came to this decision -- and at the end of the day he stills has my respect.

However, the messages coming across on a few political message boards to which I belong told a different story; a few examples (with the names removed to protect their privacy):

  • "I'm sorry, I don't get it, never have. Powell took credit for Schwartzkopf's [sic] achievements in Desert Storm, then used it to push his career as a politician. Norman, on the other hand, retired and quietly lives in Florida. Powell has done nothing to deserve being anyone's hero. He wasn't a soldier. He was a paper pushing bureaucrat and a politician."

  • "Colin Powell got us into the war in Iraq under false pretenses (and fake Anthrax)... Should we trust him now with his latest "flimsy" endorsement of Barack Obama?"

  • "I was heartbroken to hear this. Just heartbroken. He was one of my heros [sic]. I had tremendous respect for him and thought he was a great example to all."

  • "Here, after so many years we learned to treat every person as human without color or religion preferences, and out come in someone who was self proclaimed republican uttering such nonsense, and only reinforce the old bias against the black race. What a shame!"
I think you get the idea; there were certainly a lot more like this. While I can't rebut all of the comments flying around now, I'd like to offer a few thoughts on these comments (in order that I posted them).

1. Powell was and is, first and foremost, a soldier. When he retired from the military, he didn't actively seek any political or bureaucratic job; he was asked by several different presidents to serve, and being the good soldier he did what he felt was his duty. And by declining the opportunity he had to run for president in 1996, he pretty much killed any pretense that he was a politician.

2. Setting aside the argument about Powell's role in the leadup to the war in Iraq, I don't think his argument for Obama was flimsy. As with everything he's done in his life, it was a rational and well thought-out explanation. Good soldiers, especially those who make four-star rank, never do anything flimsily.

3. Was one of your heroes? Every hero I can think of has some sort of flaw; for a lot of folks during the past few days, it is that Powell went across party lines to endorse Obama. But is the fact that you disagree with one decision in a 71-year life enough reason to completely dismiss the high regard in which you held him in previous years?

4. I am so tired of race being an issue in this campaign. Support Obama or McCain, it's a race issue; oppose Obama or McCain, and it's a race issue. For me, the argument has no merit; yes, there are many voters for whom race is a significant issue, but to try and focus so much time on something that to me is a poor excuse for opposing a candidate is ridiculous. During his "Meet the Press" interview, Powell even went so far as to say up front that he wasn't going to support McCain because they were friends, and he wasn't going to support Obama because he was black. It's sad that here we are in the 21st century and a man's word can't be taken anymore. And I can hear the folks now, saying, "Well, if he hadn't lied at the UN, maybe we'd believe him now."

In the long run, I don't think this endorsement is going to sway many voters one way or another, being instead just a feather of support in Obama's cap. People just need to accept it and move on, and focus on issues that ultimately will make a difference in the final 15 days of this race.


rdl said...

I really appreciate your refutations of these comments. I especially hate the race one - as ?Grogen (Rep.) on CNN stated when a white man endorses a white man then don't say he did it bec. he is white.
I am sick & tired and appalled ( but not surprised) by the Rep. smears; i just wish the Dems. would fight back with some facts/truth about McCains past mistakes(ie: the Keating five and his campaign adviser who advised Saddam. but i do hope that you are right and that people focus on the issues because then Obama should win. sorry for the rant, but i just couldn't help myself.

Anonymous said...

Back in 2007 , when the McCain campaign was out of money and about to fold, Colin Powell dipped into his wallet and wrote a $2,300 check to McCain.
Powell’s contribution – the maximum allowed by law – came at a time when the press had written off McCain

McCain weathered the money pinch with the help of Powell, who wrote his check on Aug. 7, 2007 – at precisely the moment McCain needed it the most. The McCain campaign was delighted.

Question: were any of Powell's critics helping John McCain around that time?

I doubt it. People like critic Rush Limbaugh couldn't heap scorn on McCain fast enough

In reality McCain's real friend was Colin Powell. I doubt Powell's critics donated anything to help McCain out when he needed it most

Amanda said...

I have to agree with the other comments.

I think that the more people talk about this on the right side of the aisle-in terms of race- the more race will be a sticking point and rallying force for those in the party who have inclinations to make decisions based on that alone…and the more unappealing the Republicans will make themselves to minority voters. If they were smart, they would silence those sentiments and continue attempting to woo the voters that George W. Bush captured using values driven messages. The more they make this about race, the more Republicans throw away their opportunity to attract Latino voters. Latinos are still considered an unattached vote-as are in many cases Asian voters. Republicans should be trying to appeal to them to expand their shrinking base, not drive them away by reinforcing archetypal images of Republicans as a "bigoted" white only party. (something that played loud enough when looking at the complexion of their convention) If they aren't carefull, Republicans could squarely drive the minority vote into the hands of Democrats...something they might regret when, according to the US Census, "Minorities, now roughly one-third of the U.S. population, are expected to become the majority in 2042, with the nation projected to be 54 percent minority in 2050. By 2023, minorities will comprise more than half of all children."

They need to remember who is going to be paying for thier social security checks- People who empathize with Colin Powell.

Kansas Bob said...

Powell's endorsement moved the needle for me Matt.. then I heard Rush Limbaugh's commentary.. and I moved further left.. really.. who is the more credible man? LOL

karen said...

I appreciate the way you've handled political discussion, Matt. You've been open, honest, and to the point.