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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Republican Death Bed Conversion

The endorsement of Barack Obama for President by Colin Powell seems destined to be the headline of the day and week of October 19, 2008. I'm not sure what symbolic or practical value the endorsement has for Obama at this point in the campaign. As of October 19, Obama appears to have a seven to twelve point lead in the popular vote, he has turned several Republican states from the 2004 race into his camp and forced his opponent to compete in virtually every other swing state with limited remaining funds. Obama has reached this point by keeping his campaign on an even keel, formulating a 50-state strategy from the very beginning and sticking to that strategy.

The endorsement of Powell and its timing says much more about Powell himself and the Republican Party. Powell's actions as a member of the Bush Administration and after his tenure serve as a microcosm of everything that's wrong with the Republican Party. Numerous books have been written in the past few years about the Bush White House in general and the events leading up to the Iraq war. All of them include a common narrative that indicates Colin Powell was pretty much ignored, if not outright disrespected, from Day One of becoming Secretary of State. Despite his stature coming into the Administration as a former Chairman of the JCOS, he was IMMEDIATELY cut out of the loop by Cheney and Rumsfeld and it became readily apparent to him during the planning of the Afghanistan campaign and in the establishment of CIA-run secret prisons for terror suspects.

By the time the sales campaign kicked off for the Iraq war in Fall 2002, it was very clear to Colin Powell that the core power structure within the Bush White House was not only ignoring any input Powell might have had from a military perspective but withholding facts and decisions that directly affected his responsibilities as Secretary of State. Yet he stayed on.

After UN weapons inspectors publicly reported in January of 2003 they could find no signs of actual nuclear weapons or active development capabilities, the Bush Administration continued beating the drum for an invasion against a phantom threat. In February of 2003, when they needed a trusted face to present the bogus case for war to the United Nations, they selected Colin Powell for the role. Powell agreed to do the presentation, DESPITE knowing Cheney and Rumsfeld had been planning for an Iraq war since September 12, 2001 and DESPITE knowing United Nations weapons experts had failed to find any signs of active WMD programs.

When American forces raced across Iraq, toppled Saddam and had searched most of the country and AGAIN confirmed no signs of WMD stockpiles or any actual capacity to manufacture them, Powell said nothing. Powell said NOTHING at all about the fraud, the catastrophically flawed decision making of the Bush White House or his complicity in the fraud and stayed on as Secretary of State until AFTER the November 2004 election that gave Bush another four years in power.

Powell's endorsement of Obama for President is meaningless because Powell himself has absolutely zero political or moral credibility. Powell's conduct is the epitome of the Republican Way -- any mistake, any catastrophe, no matter how obvious or avoidable is acceptable as long as Republicans are winning and the blame can be shifted elsewhere. Powell is famous in part for his so-called Powell Doctrine -- avoiding the arbitrary, capricious use of American military forces for "soft" goals but going ALL OUT to ensure victory when American forces ARE used. Powell formulated that modus operandi based upon his frustration with the quality of leadership within the military and the government. How bitterly ironic. Powell's failure to recognize the beginnings of another failed American war of occupation and his failure to do the honorable thing after being used as a pawn to sell that failure using forged evidence to the American public and the world are classic failures of leadership and personal integrity. Failures that render his opinion on pretty much anything moot.