Sunday, October 19, 2008

MTP: The Powell Endorsement

First, I'd like to point out that media perceptions of Powell's sagacity are highly selective.

In fact, Powell reiterated his defense of the administration's basic decision to go to war in Iraq, and Powell again stated that his "unhappiness is that we didn't do it right".

But it's important to examine the reasoning Powell displayed on Meet the Press when he endorsed Obama. It's been a fairly open secret that Powell is not anything close to resembling a "movement conservative", and he holds numerous positions at odds with the majority of the party. Those differences were on full display today.

The popular perception of the Powell endorsement is that a military figure's endorsement is an endorsement first and foremost of Obama as Commander-in-Chief. But instead, it is apparent from Powell's statements that he was more concerned with non-military issues, and it seemed to me that Powell was mostly working backwards from his social policy views to find the Obama-Biden ticket acceptable from a military policy perspective.

Listening to Powell's descriptions about our planned withdrawal from Iraq, one would think that we're on autopilot to victory - that the die has been cast and neither Obama nor McCain is likely to do much to change it. Perhaps so, but that doesn't make Obama any more qualified to be Commander-in-Chief in any future conflicts, and the general dismissal of this issue undermines Powell's criticism of Gov. Palin as being "not ready".

It also amazed me that Powell could endorse Sen. Biden as being "ready on day one" when Biden's so-called-experience in foreign affairs has been marred by thirty years of serious policy blunders - not the least of which was a suggestion to send "a check to Iran" in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. (How Biden connected the Shia/Persian theocracy of Iran to the Sunni/Arab core of Al Qaeda has eluded me.)

But it is clear to me that Powell was working backwards from the conclusions he has drawn about social policy. The first subjects Powell mentioned were the economy, education, and international poverty, and he expressed a desire to not have more conservative SCOTUS Justices. If Powell wants a liberal Supreme Court, thinks Obama is the answer to the economy and education, and has a desire for the type of international welfare superstate that Obama favors, it's almost a foregone conclusion that an Obama endorsement was in the cards.

Frankly, it's surprising that he waited this long. How Powell justifies a Christie Whitman-like whining about how he doesn't like the direction the party has taken is beyond me. Powell seems to have no social policy agreement with Republicans whatsoever.

But policy differences aside, I was disappointed when Powell slipped into more ephemeral praise of Obama using language like "intellectual curiosity", "inspiring", "inclusive", "reaching out", and "transformational". His willingness to sprinkle this meaningless bumble into his endorsement indicates that he has bought into the idea that Obama qua Obama will heal the nation's wounds and lead America to greatness with Obama's own personal majesty. Powell has drunk the Kool-Aid.

What malarkey.

(Edit: Yeah, what Goldberg says about those spurious Muslim claims.)

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