17 October 2008

Obama Should Repudiate Any Powell Endorsement

There seems to be significant amount of buzz surrounding the possibility that Colin Powell may endorse Barack Obama this weekend. Before getting all worked up, Democrats should recall at least two things. First, not only did Powell lie repeatedly in the course of the BushCo propaganda campaign that led up the Iraq invasion in 2003 but, his command performance at the U.N. arguably was the clincher for the invasion, which was initiated roughly a week later. Second, Powell was among the group of top level BushCo officials who met in the White House Situation Room and approved plans to torture specific detainees in particular ways.

Over at Huff Post the comment threads on stories about Powell's anticipated endorsement are full of folks declaring that Powell is "honorable" and that the anti-war crown ought to 'get over it' now that some time has passed.* This is a pretty astounding lack of self-reflection on the part of people who support Obama as a progressive purveyor of change and hope. (I actually do not subscribe to that view, although he is better than McCain.) I'd love to hear how honor squares with duplicity and inhumanity.

Powell is way too smart and had way too many contacts in the military and intelligence communities to actually believe what he peddled in the run-up to the invasion. (at a minimum he had to have understood that the "intelligence" was contested and that the BushCo line was mostly spin.) And he simply ought to have resigned and spoken out forthrightly about the policy of torture. It is that simple. All the talk about honor and integrity amounts to nothing in the face of the record. If Obama takes on a Powell endorsement, he unnecessarily takes on the burden of an unjustified war - one that he prides himself on having opposed at the outset.
* For example:
"Powell is the only person to come out of the Bush Administration with high favorability ratings. Only some remnants of the anti war movement still stuck in 2003 care about that much about his UN speech. Iraq was a Bush Cheney Rumsfeld policy. I and most people consider him an honorable man. This is a definite plus for Obama."

"Powell is not tarnished in anyone's eyes except extreme partisans. If he was running for president, he'd win in a landslide."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought Colin Powell was highly overrated. The man has a "C" average from a city university; how much of an intellect can he really be? I suspect he got where he is because smarter folks saw an unsophisticated man the public adored but whom they can manipulate... sorta like George.

17 October, 2008 19:03  
Blogger Public Squalor said...

No doubt Powell is a liar (possibly even eligible for war crimes charges), but wrapped within our perverse U.S. worldview he's still a "hero". The last time I checked this bum still had a public approval rating above 70%.

The election hasn't much to do with integrity at this point. (When did it ever?) No doubt the Democratic Party faithful see the Powell endorsement as an "up yours" to the McCain camp from the military establishment. The infantile horse race goes on...

peace -

18 October, 2008 09:03  
Blogger Stan B. said...

He came off pretty well in the W movie being the sole voice of opposition to the Iraq war- before buckling yet again in good "soldier" mode, and doing what he intellectually knew and instinctively felt was 100% dead dying wrong.

18 October, 2008 21:13  
Blogger WEF said...

This endorsement speaks volumes and I believe it will be a needle mover for two relevant voter segments this election: (1) moderate Republicans who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the extreme rightward direction of the McCain-Palin campaign and (2) people who are holding back on Obama-Biden primarily because of foreign policy and national security concerns.

Aside from the blemish on his record in relation to the Iraq war, General Powell still garners tremendous respect from the vast majority of Republicans, and every Republican President in the last three decades has sought his advice on National Security and Foreign Policy issues. I hope that General Powell's endorsement will sway the votes of some members of the two above-mentioned segments away from John McCain and Sarah Palin and towards Senators Obama and Biden.

This election is still too close for my comfort, and the excellent news about General Powell aside, it will be important for those of who support Senator Obama to get to the polls on election day (or sooner if you can!) and vote not only to ensure his victory, but also to demonstrate the greater sense of unity and solidarity our country desperately needs right now.

Comments welcome: http://whenelephantsfly.blogspot.com

19 October, 2008 17:17  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


Over at The Nation John Nichols has a laudatory column re: the Powell endorsement. It ends:

"Memo to McCain: Powell may be an imperfect player in the minds of many (especially for those of us who recall his February, 2002, testimony on Iraq before the UN), but he trumps Kissinger."

This quip is telling. As is well documented, Kissinger has blood on his hands and, quite arguably, could (and should) be tried for crimes against humanity. In that regard, he differs from Powell by not terribly much. What Nichols neglects to mention is that Powell not only lied repeatedly in the run-up to the war, but also sat in the 'Situation Room' with Bush's 'Principals Group' (including Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld ...) to decide who to torture and how. Maybe he gave some push back then, but there is no evidence of it. The detainees were still tortured.

There is no integrity or honor in the man. If there were he'd have resigned rather than participate in those decisions and made public what what was going on. The fact that most Americans refuse to see that is akin to the fact that many still believe that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attacks.

The way Obama fell over himself soliciting Powell's support is very troubling. Despite the apoplectic rantings of the right, it speaks volumes about just how truly middle-of-the-road Obama is.

19 October, 2008 19:49  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

P.S.: Even in terms of pure opportunism, the polls were tracking well for Obama and suggested he will win relatively handily. I am surprised, I suppose, but even if we worry about the 'Bradley effect' it seems people just cannot take McCain/Palin seriously. So Powell does nothing electorally - the independents and so-called moderate Republicans (those who stand by and let McCain and Palin run a blatantly racist campaign) would've stayed home.

19 October, 2008 19:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While liberals view this endorsement as a validation of their candidate's national security capabilities, in my opinion, the undecided "Joe Six-Packs," who will determine the outcome of this election, will simply look at this as a black guy endorsing another black guy.

20 October, 2008 11:51  

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