Sitting in airports most of yesterday, I got an earful of CNN's coverage of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama.
It effectively undercut two of the most damning truths about Obama. Particularly galling was the interview with Claire McCaskill. Grinning like the Cheshire cat, she gushed Obama must be the best choice since Powell, a military man, would never support someone unqualified to serve as CinC or who trafficked with terrorists. This despite the fact Powell's endorsement included nothing addressing the validity of those two points. Even afterward, General Powell did not address with specificity his rationale for endorsing Obama.
By far, however, the most disappointing aspect of Powell's endorsement was his contention that, despite his decision, he still considers himself a Republican. I do not know the General nor have I ever spoken to him. I believe he is a good man and his skilled service to our country as a military man is beyond exemplary. But I cannot accept his contention that he is a Republican. It is not because he endorsed the nominee from the other side. It is his stated reasons for doing so.
Over the last 8 years, three prominent Democrats endorsed the GOP nominee; Zell Miller, Democratic Senator from Georgia; Ed Koch, former Democratic Mayor of NYC and Joe Lieberman, former Democratic Senator from CT and 2000 Democratic VP nominee. When these Democrats endorsed the GOP nominee, they did so deliberately and with specificity. They did so while remaining Democrats. With the exception of Zell Miller, they did so while disagreeing with Republicans on almost every other point except the War on Terror. Concluding aggression against the US was the greatest threat to the nation and that Democrats could not or would not see that, these men broke with their party to support a GOP nominee. Miller's endorsement followed in the well established DixieCrat tradition of Conservative southern Democrats. There was nothing that demanded these men be excluded from the Democratic Party.
There was a fair amount of criticism from the Left directed at these men for their decision. Like Powell, however, they maintained they were still Democrats while breaking with the party on the war. That break cost them. While Miller retired shortly after his endorsement, he was villified by Leftists. Lieberman was actively opposed by the Democratic Party in his bid for reelection to the Senate. These men remain Democrats in all things except for their endorsements. Ed Koch is supporting Obama and thinks Palin is scary. Joe Lieberman still caucuses with Democrats and votes with them on virtually all matters not related to the war. It is clear, whether or not you agree with their assessment of the war, that was the reason they supported the nominee from the GOP.
Colin Powell's rationale isn't even close to as specific. It's filled with nebulous and meaningless platitudes. Obama brings a fresh set of eyes to the problem. Well, so does Sarah Palin. Obama is inclusive. This is simply laughable as there is literally zero evidence for that. If inclusiveness is the criteria by which we are to judge, McCain is the hands down winner. Powell is uncomfortable with the rhetoric coming out of the McCain camp regarding Obama's association with terrorists, both foreign and domestic. Evidently he is OK with the rhetoric coming from the camps of terrorists, both foreign and domestic, that support the Illinois Senator.
In short, Powell's objections to McCain aren't policy based. They aren't ideologically based. They seem to be based in personality. That is not to say personality has nothing to do with how to evaluate a candidate. But it ought to be last on the list and certainly not a basis for abandoning party policy and ideology. Unless, of course, your policy and ideology is more akin to the other guy's than to the one you are generally associated with.
Colin Powell, when asked if he was still a Republican, responded that he was. With all respect to the General, I must disagree. There is little evidence from his speech that he is. His endorsement of Obama ignores that Obama is for bigger Government, higher Taxes, decreased personal Liberty, weaker national Defense and a host of other anti-GOP notions. Powell does not list a single issue or policy with which Obama is at odds with the GOP and which he considers paramount beyond all considerations for the safety and security of our nation. Instead, he gives a general and sweeping endorsement of the man and his policies which are unquestionably Left of center.
If you can explain to me how this is a Republican view, I'm willing to listen. But from here it sounds like a Democrat in GOP clothing standing up for what he believes in. I have no issue with the good General if he wants to hold Democratic views. I would appreciate, however, the intellectual honesty to admit the same and make the announcement that he cannot, in good conscience, remain in the GOP any longer and that he was endorsing the Democratic agenda.
That's an endorsement I could respect.