Powell's Coming Out Party

In a seven-minute diatribe against John McCain and the Republican Party that went uninterrupted and unchallenged by Tom Brokaw, former Secretary of State Colin Powell has essentially cut his ties to the G.O.P.

It was a “coming out party” on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that was less a repudiation of the Republican Party than of conservatism itself. Powell went far beyond any tactical disputes he may have with the McCain campaign. He railed against the very principles that would make someone a Republican.

In announcing his enthusiastic support for the most liberal member of the United States Senate, Powell was saying that he isn’t really a Republican and he never really was. For proof, take a close look at his talking points.

He begins by telling Brokaw that he “…has some concerns about the direction that Party has taken in recent years. It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it.” But has it?

Well, no. In many ways, George W. Bush and the current crop of Republicans in Congress have governed far to the left of Bill Clinton. Bush has outspent Clinton. He has grown government in ways that irritate true conservatives, such as his expansion of federal meddling into public schools. Bush has added a new entitlement (the pharmaceutical benefit) and a new cabinet agency (the Department of Homeland Security). So where is this sharp right turn that Powell objects to?

On the issue of readiness to be president, Powell proclaims Obama full of “intellectual curiosity” and imbued with “a depth of knowledge.” Maybe in some parallel universe, but here on Planet Earth, Obama was a community organizer and went to an elite university and became a state legislator. He parlayed that into a U.S. Senate seat but immediately started running for president based on a brand image created by his campaign manager David Axelrod.

At the same time, Powell doesn’t believe Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, is ready to be president. To Powell, she just doesn’t have all that experience that Obama has. And besides, she’s a conservative!

Powell moves in a smooth segue to the Bill Ayers issue, stating that he is “disappointed, frankly” by the McCain effort to tie Obama to Ayers when that is not a central part of the problems America is facing. Powell objects to the “robocalls” that the McCain campaign has been making “…to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Sen. Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted.”

With no challenge from Tom Brokaw, Powell was able to get by with this, but if the late Sunday hosts Tony Snow or Tim Russert had been there, one might have asked about the cumulative effect of Obama’s alliances with radical elements from Frank Marshall Davis to Rev. Wright to Father Pfleger to Tony Rezko to ACORN to Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga. But if Powell even knows about that pattern, he is undisturbed by it.

Powell is disturbed by the constant rumors that Obama is a Muslim. On this, many conservatives agree with Powell. But the former general didn’t leave it there. He went on to say, “The really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country…is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

The problem with this line of thought is not so much that virtually all terrorists around the globe are Muslim and that might give a thoughtful voter pause but simply that the Islamic faith does not represent American values. In America, we are a nation steeped in the Judeo-Christian ethic. We value life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a way that no Islamic nation does.

Finally, Powell is concerned that McCain might appoint two more conservatives to the Supreme Court. If you need additional proof that Powell is a Democrat, there you are. Republican administrations gave Powell his biggest opportunities in life, and perhaps for that reason, he claimed to be a Republican. Now that he’s come clean, it will be interesting to see what part he might play in an Obama administration and how far left he will go.