Colin Powell`s Tribal Politics
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."[Former
Bush Secretary of State Powell Endorses Obama, Voice
Yet, in hailing Barack as a
"transformational figure" whose election would
country … (and) the world," Powell seems to
testify to the centrality of Barack`s ethnicity to his
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 African-American president?
Powell`s endorsement follows that
African-American icon, Congressman John Lewis of
Selma Bridge fame, who
switched allegiance from Hillary to Barack, while
"Something`s happening in
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
district and angry
constituent demands to know why he was not backing the
first black with a real chance at winning the White
Powell was under no such pressure.
Hence, what he did, and why, are subjects of media and
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
history and a manifestation of a lack of judgment by
those, like Colin Powell, who launched it.
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
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 for Alito.
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
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
William Ayers fears to bring up his far closer ties
Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
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.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to VDARE.COM readers;
his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its
Empire and the West Lost the World,
Paul Craig Roberts.