[StBernard] Tribal Politics
westley at da-parish.com
Tue Oct 21 20:12:32 EDT 2008
by Patrick J. Buchanan (more by this author)
Posted 10/21/2008 ET
Updated 10/21/2008 ET
Was race a factor in the decision of Colin Powell to repudiate his party's
nominee and friend of 25 years, Sen. John McCain, two weeks before Election
Day, and to endorse Barack Obama?
Gen. Powell does not deny it, contending only that race was not the only or
decisive factor. "If I had only that fact in mind," he told Tom Brokaw, "I
could have done this six, eight, ten months ago."
Yet, in hailing Barack as a "transformational figure" whose election would
"electrify our country ... (and) the world," Powell seems to testify to the
centrality of Barack's ethnicity to his decision.
For what else is there about this freshman senator, who has no significant
legislative accomplishment, to transform our politics and to electrify the
world, other than the fact that he would be the nation's first
Powell's endorsement follows that of another African-American icon,
Congressman John Lewis of Selma Bridge fame, who switched allegiance from
Hillary to Barack, while Clinton still had a fighting chance to win.
When Lewis deserted her in February, he, too, claimed a Road-to-Damascus
experience, to have seen a transformational figure:
"Something's happening in America, something some of us did not see coming
... Barack Obama has tapped into something that is extraordinary. ... It's a
movement. It's a spiritual event."
Lewis' desertion, however, was not unrelated to a primary challenge in his
Atlanta district and angry constituent demands to know why he was not
backing the first black with a real chance at winning the White House.
Powell was under no such pressure. Hence, what he did, and why, are subjects
of media and political speculation.
Understandably, Powell is being hailed by the Obama media as a profile in
courage. Equally understandably, his endorsement of Obama is said by
Republicans to smack of ingratitude, opportunism, and even vindictiveness
toward a party to which he owes his fame and career.
Here was a man who was rendered extraordinary honors by three Republican
presidents. Reagan raised him from Army colonel to national security
adviser, the first African-American in the post. George H. W. Bush named him
chairman of the Joint Chiefs, over hundreds of more senior officers. George
W. Bush made him the first African-American secretary of state.
While he may have gotten well with the capital elite with this decision,
Powell has wounded his party's nominee at a point of maximum vulnerability,
a friend who supported him on the war, and agreed with Powell on the need
for a larger invasion force. And Powell has embraced a liberal Democrat who
owes his nomination to his fierce opposition to the war Powell sold the
nation, a war Obama calls the worst blunder in U.S. history and a
manifestation of a lack of judgment by those, like Colin Powell, who
Joe Biden, who voted to authorize the war, now calls his vote a mistake.
Yet, Powell endorses him, too, while repudiating a McCain-Palin ticket that
continues to defend his war.
And the scatter-gun attack Powell launched on the GOP ticket -- hitting
McCain for fumbling the financial crisis, choosing Sarah Palin, pressing
Barack's association with William Ayers, and not defending Obama's
Christianity -- suggests a man with scores to settle with the party of
George W. Bush.
Yet, what kind of Republican can Powell be when he professes deep concern
that McCain might choose Supreme Court justices like John Roberts and Sam
Alito? Every Republican in the Senate voted for Roberts. All but one voted
Does Colin Powell have a problem with Antonin Scalia? Is the general a Ruth
Bader Ginsberg Republican?
There is speculation Powell feels badly used by the neocons who
cherry-picked and hyped the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction
he presented at the U.N., and that he harbors a distrust of the neocons now
reassembling around McCain.
If so, he surely has a case, and should have made it.
But in the last analysis, one comes back to the forbidden issue of
ethnicity. For example, would Powell have endorsed Hillary, had she won the
nomination? After all, her views on Iraq -- having supported the war and
never apologized -- are even closer to Powell's than Obama's.
The issue cannot be avoided.
After all, we are in a year where Obama defeated the wife of "our first
black president," Bill Clinton, 90-10 in the black wards of Philly, and
African-Americans, in one poll, are going 94-1 for Barack. And a Republican
ticket that is hammering Barack on his ties to William Ayers fears to bring
up his far closer ties to the Afro-racist anti-American Rev. Jeremiah
Organizing a fundraiser last year for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, an
Hispanic Democrat, Lionel Sosa of San Antonio, a political strategist for
Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II, said, "Blood runs thicker than politics."
Mr. Sosa is perhaps more candid about his motives than folks in D.C.
Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Churchill,
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West
Lost the World, "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic,
Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."
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