Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Colin Powell does not have a lot of friends left, but last Sunday he spoke to those who remained.
The value to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) of the former Secretary of State's endorsement has been much debated the past few days.
highwayscribery submits that those debates miss the rather totemic importance of what Powell did.
Endorsements are probably overstated in terms of their impact. Powell's served mostly as another nail in a coffin that will never be quite closed until all the votes are really counted, because the corpse it carries is Republican.
The Secretary's Sunday morning talk show intervention had a value richer than any resulting impact on the electoral ebb and flow.
Mr. Powell's speech was directed at the only people left who believe in him, because they still believe the Iraq war was the right thing to do, and because they still believe that George W. Bush's presidency was an excellent one sabotaged by a revolt of the egg-heads.
Mostly discredited, first by a turn as lackey in the sell-job the administration tried and failed to dump on the United Nations, and second, by his ensuing impotence before the craven drive of Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld, Powell still has a red state constituency.
And what he did on Sunday morning was take that constituency to task for ignorance demonstrated throughout the presidential campaign (and before).
We reach this conclusion by paraphrasing, which is nothing more than saying what somebody has already said...a different way. More interpretation than science it is yours to agree or not.
Powell told his party pals that they were traipsing the borders of stupidity by conflating an association between William Ayers and Barack Obama to some alchemical point where the latter became a terrorist sympathizer (if not one himself).
He reminded them that you are not untrustworthy by virtue of the fact you are an Arab and that those like the lady who stood up at a McCain rally to announce her distrust of Obama because he's "an Arab" are not thinking very inclusively, democratically, or, well, intelligently.
Pretty basic stuff, yes, but losing elections, lust for power, or the refusal to admit errors can make people say some pretty dim things.
Powell reminded the country-firsters that they are not the only Americans by virtue of their Christianity, white skins, or small-town addresses, nor do they top any list of purity because of these traits.
A Muslim who lies in Arlington National Cemetery, he seemed to say, has a greater claim to the title "American" than the jingo-jangle crowd rattling at the tail of McCain's campaign.
He used the language of reason and logic, something to which his last followers appear inured. And Powell used it to highlight the absurdity of a certain Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann's (R) remarks about "anti-American" legislators in the United States Congress.
Powell put an end to his own collaboration, by party association, with Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh, and FOX News, and everybody else who thinks there is only one kind of American - the American they understand themselves to be.
It was an admonishment.
It was a cry that enough is enough. That no matter how much they reject Obama's challenge to join in a national healing, the challenge remains, and that real Americans will heed it, not for Obama's benefit, but for their own.
One can only hope they listened.