Posted by mlajoie2 on 19 October, 2008 at 5:55 pm. 26 comments already!

Well, now we see; it is clear. Colin Powell is Obama’s October Surprise. Those who know better and have decided whom we need in spite of us are bringing in the biggest gun to secure their victory and make it clear for us.

Colin Powell is a very good man, by all accounts, in many ways. I’m sure he’s trying to be sincere. But like all of us he has weaknesses and tendencies that might explain why he was open to taking this move directly on behalf of Obama. What was he really doing this morning on “Meet the Press”?

This is my take. What Powell gave was an uninterrupted political speech not the argument of a statesman. (Tom Brokaw didn’t seem as concerned about time constraints this time, by the way; he must have left his stopwatch at home. Somehow, I don’t think Tim Russert would have left several of Powell’s points unchallenged like Brokaw did.) My wife’s remark as we watched him was: “he’s reading through a list of Obama campaign talking points, bullet point by bullet point. He’s not even coming up for air!” His tone and manner even sounded liked Obama’s, reassuring but lacking something somehow. Why did it seem this way?


Logical reasons don’t seem to be the primary justification for this move he’s made. Rather, his points seem to be political, power-sharing and influence-building more than issue-based or ideological. He seems more concerned about appearances, how he looks, how we ‘look’, “approval ratings” and our perception in the world. (For instance, I understand we need to build coalitions more than Bush has, but I think Obama and Powell are not really talking about that; they want ‘standing’.)

There are more clues in the programmatic points he made that indicate they are more ‘excuses’ than reasons. I would like to address some of them as examples of the overall pattern I see.

  • If he really was “impressed” by Obama’s response to the current crisis, what exactly did Obama DO that impressed him so much? The one meeting he tried to conduct as an “executive” was an unmitigated disaster. His stated purpose was to pass the original version that had billions for ACORN. Thank God he failed. He also employed the “call me if you need me” method of leadership most of that time. McCain actually did help save us from the original bill and did get some safeguards put in, no matter what it looked like. I think what Powell is telling us is that Obama gives an IMPRESSION of ‘calm’ and he ‘looks presidential’ through the crisis while McCain ‘looked’ “erratic” in the codeword of the Obama campaign (even though he was the one who actually DID something). If this is what he’s really saying, then this is more evidence his move is a political one not a principled one.
  • He claims to be very concerned about education. Does he really think the slavish toeing of the education unions’ line which is what Obama is really espousing has been or will be good for us? Does he not know what kind of “education” Obama was funding and promoting with Bill Ayres in Chicago? Shouldn’t he be for true “change” like vouchers or true teacher standards? But, I suppose, that wouldn’t ‘look’ right.
  • Powell said the Republican Party is “becoming narrower.” This, once again, is all about impressions, vague characterizations and talking points as opposed to principle, records and evidence of actually doing something. Powell claimed Obama has somehow “widened” his approach. After all we’ve seen, is there anybody that’s been paying attention who, with full and firm conviction, buys any of Obama’s “post-partisan” rhetoric now? Ask the ordinary citizens who supported Hilary how THEY feel about his actual practices, for one thing. Ask the victims of the ACORN, Fannie Mae and other fiascos about the Alinsky tactics used against them. Who is it that has been ‘wider’ in the REAL world? McCain has lived it; Obama NEVER has and has done the opposite. John McCain has the proof of it in ways that has actually upset the so-called ‘narrower’ Republicans.
  • His accepting of Obama’s “experience” and rejection of Palin’s seems to be totally based on what it will LOOK LIKE. Can the ‘poise’ shown in ‘running a campaign’ really outweigh real actions and the supervision of a very large budget or a business? Powell says he prefers how we’ll be perceived over actual records and accomplishments. Biden has been totally wrong and loopy at times in his foreign policy approach and he lied 14 times in 90 minutes during his debate with Palin, but he ‘seems’ more Presidential so he is preferable to that bumpkin Sarah?
  • So what’s really going on here? Why would he do it? My guess, because of the political nature of his polemic, is that it has everything to do with the fact that Powell shares the upper class, pro-choice, we know better than you socially liberal approach of Obama’s core support. His reputation in the military has been that of a rather ‘soft’ Beta male, in opposition to the Schwarzkopf types. He wants to be well regarded, I suspect, by his elite peer group. If that is so, Americans should recognize it as such. It seems pretty obvious to me that’s what he has done. Unfortunately, we are an image-driven society and the impact of this will probably be very large. We will need to work hard to get this insight out there, if we can.

    Well, I hope he will take responsibility for making this move later on if it actually helps elect the least experienced President ever. He is spending the well-earned capital of his reputation in a very dubious way. I hope he will be strong enough to admit that the voices callin’ Powell were lying. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Emperor still has no clothes, even when a retired General says it does