Patrick Buchanan: Powell’s endorsement of Obama is about race

Race has a way of inserting itself into almost everything in America. I have always found this troubling. In this particular Presidential election, it should be the economy here, the economy there, the economy everywhere. Yet, we also find the issue of race a factor where it should not be.

Witness Patrick Buchanan. Now, I have a certain amount of respect Patrick Buchanan, the former U.S. Republican Presidential candidate (after all, his website is on my blogroll). I came of age watching him debate Morton Kondracke and Eleanor Clift on “The McLaughlin Group” weekly in the early 1980s. His controversial ideas on foreign policy are top-notch. However, when it comes to domestic politics, he often veers off into the jingoist and downright racist side of things.

Such is the case again regarding Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama for President. Buchanan makes a connection between Obama and Powell that many seem to have made silently, but have been afraid to voice out loud in a politically correct America — they are both Black.

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.”

Yet, in hailing Barack as a “transformational figure” whose election would “electrify our country … (and) the world,” Powell seems to testify to the centrality of Barack’s ethnicity to his decision.

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 of another African-American icon, Congressman John Lewis of Selma Bridge fame, who switched allegiance from Hillary to Barack, while Clinton still had a fighting chance to win.

When Lewis deserted her in February, he, too, claimed a Road-to-Damascus experience, to have seen a transformational figure:

“Something’s happening in America, something some of us did 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 Atlanta district and angry constituent demands to know why he was not backing the first black with a real chance at winning the White House.

Powell was under no such pressure. Hence, what he did, and why, are subjects of media and political speculation.

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 blunder in U.S. 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 the 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.

Does Colin Powell have a problem with Antonin Scalia? Is the general a Ruth Bader Ginsberg Republican?

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 views on Iraq — having 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 ties to William Ayers fears to bring up his far closer ties to the Afro-racist anti-American Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Organizing a 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.

Tribal Politics

The thought process here goes: Powell is Black. Obama is Black. Powell is a Republican. Obama is a Democrat. Therefore, Powell supports Obama only because they are both black. So, vote Republican because we care about issues, not race.

Hmmm. What about Chuck Hagel and Chris Buckley? Aren’t they also Republicans for Obama? In truth, I find this whole line of thinking quite sinister. It reminds me of a comment made by Australian Tennis Player Lleyton Hewitt in a match against American James Blake, who is half-black.

In a five set match with James Blake at the 2001 U.S. Open, Hewitt complained to umpire Andres Egli and asked for a black linesman to be moved after being called for two foot-faults in the third set. “Look at him,” Hewitt said, gesturing at the linesman. He approached the chair umpire and, pointing first to the offending linesman and then to Blake, said,”Look at him and you tell me what the similarity is.”

It is this type of thinking that leads to comments like this one here responding to Buchanan’s blog post:

friscokid said:

Powell is an intelligent and capable bureaucrat, but that’s all he is. He was used by the Republican Party to put a visible black face high up in the government, but he’s really just a spineless person (kind of like Joe Biden, come to think of it). Why else would he have allowed himself to be used by people
who, as is apparent now, he didn’t even like and who’s ideas he didn’t support.

Powell’s allegience to Obama is probably indicative of what we can expect from most black appointees in an Obama administration: if there is any friction or disagreement between a white person and a black person, we can count on black bureaucrats to side with blacks every time. Tribalism, which is what we’ve been taught is wrong, and which was waning, will have a sudden resurgence, in my opinion. The concept of payback for past injustices will also certainly be a factor in the intensity of the tribalism that we can expect to see.

Barack Obama is just one man. Even if you think he’s fair, his appointees are going to be running our daily lives. I don’t think most people are going to like what they do.

Tribal Politics, comments section

Hello? It’s the economy, Stupid. But, apparently, this is how many frame issues in their mind. In an election as important as any in some 75 years, it would be nice to see the issue of race handled with greater dignity and less suspicion.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

  1. Wag the Dog says

    Pat Buchanan has basically descended to Rush Limbaugh’s level — Chris Matthews had a few words to say about those quick to bring up tribalism.

    There is a compelling Jungian concept whereby those who do refuse to acknowledge their own shadow will project it onto others. Given their past history of stirring up xenophobia, both Buchanan and Limbaugh seem to have a lot of individuation to do.

  2. Anonymous says

    Well in a recent survey of tens of thousands of active military personell 68% McCain, 23% The One; amongst blacks 79% The One, 12% McCain.

  3. Edward Harrison says

    anonymous, you are making a leap of logic that is not supported by the facts. Whether blacks in general support Obama is irrelevant. One cannot extrapolate from the general to the specific. One has to divine Colin Powell’s motivation based on his own personal prior history and statements.

Comments are closed.

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