By now we have all heard about the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell and the reaction to it. We also knew it would take 5 seconds for the Limbaugh/Pat Buchanan crowd to say it was all done on a racial basis. So I started wondering, what was it like back in 2000, when Powell was seen as a possible candidate for the Republican party? Join me below for some interesting quotes...
For the record, I think Colin Powell is a war criminal and should be sent to the Hague with Bush and company for war crimes. However, I also aware of the fact he is widely respected by many Republican and independent voters, so if it helps us to elect a great president, I can certainly live with Powell's endorsement.
But whether or not you like Powell, it is very clear he made his decision based on very careful considerations of the issues and the character of the candidates. Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and many Republicans would have us believe it was all simply due to race. The black man simply voted for the black man. So I was wondering, what was said about Colin Powell when he was considered a possibility as a GOP presidential or VP candidate. A 30 minute Google search revealed, as expected, great hypocrisy. Certainly even greater treasures can be found in the ramblings of Limbaugh and others with a more detailed search. But I was amazed at how racially charged the comments about Powell were when he was stilled viewed as a GOP asset:
MARK SHIELDS: Well, there are three choices that terrify Democrats, terrify them. First, obviously, is Colin Powell. I mean Colin Powell, there was a brief flurry this week in the middle of week in Austin about a rumor that Colin Powell may be available. That would make such a profound statement about George Bush himself, that he is not fearful, unlike most presidential nominees. It speaks volumes about who somebody chooses. I mean, it said a lot about Walter Mondale when he chose Geraldine Ferraro. It said a lot about George Bush when he chose Dan Quayle; it said a lot about Dick Nixon when he chose Spiro Agnew, and said something very big about Ronald Reagan when he offered it to Gerry Ford, and Jack Kennedy when he offered it to Lyndon Johnson. For him to offer it to Colin Powell, not to be afraid of being dwarfed, of a stature gap, would be something, and race trumps choice. It would eliminate abortion as an issue for the Republicans.CNN Pundit Miles O'Brien and GOP Bob Franken discuss Powell prospects in the 2000 election:
PAUL GIGOT: I agree with him on the first two, but not the third. One transforming figure in this race and that's Colin Powell. ... He brings such special characteristics to the race and to history that it would be remarkable, and I think George W. Bush has asked him. In fact, he has really sat down and said, "we need you" and Powell's answer is, "look, I'm just not interested in elected politics. I'll be your secretary of state but not elected politics."
O'BRIEN: All right, back to the e-mail box one more time. This one comes from Joe Stevens, parts unknown. Joe has this query:Even back in 1995, Republicans argue "Powell, Forbes revive GOP":
"I've heard it mentioned lately that Bush could easily win the election if Colin Powell was his running mate. I believe that ticket would draw veterans who supported John McCain, like myself, as well as minorities back to the Republican Party. I see that as an unbeatable ticket."
Just when I had begun to despair about the Republican presidential candidates for 1996, up pop two wild cards: Publisher Malcolm "Steve" Forbes Jr. and the possibility of Gen. Colin Powell...Even Bill Bennett jumps on board when having someone black on the ticket could benefit the GOP:
...A military man who has consistently voted black Republican, Powell presents America with a successor to Jesse Jackson and offers the country a chance of electing a racially unifying African-American president.
I'm sure the Democrats are cringing at the thought of it.
Powell is a political gift for the Republicans.
BENNETT: Well, I would say, yes, let's look through the keyhole, as Jesse Jackson says. George Bush and Dick Cheney and Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and J.C. Watts -- you bet I'll take that team..
You make the standard error--common on left and right--of condemning an entire group for the actions of a few. Sure, some people have called Colin Powell an Uncle Tom, but I'm not one of them, and neither are any of the people I know. This is certainly not the position of the liberal New York Times, which treats Powell with the greatest respectOr how about when outraged Republicans accused Katie Couric of suggesting Powell was a token:
Colin Powell, Do You Know You’re Just a Token?Or maybe George Will. He'd over course NEVER reference race in terms of Collin Powell, right?:
"Only four percent of the delegates in the convention hall are African-Americans. Do you feel troubled at all by this, and do you feel used by your party?"
— To Colin Powell, August 1, 2000, during the week of the Republican convention.
The Congressional Black Caucus is pouting, many members threatening an action that might not be noticed -- a boycott of inaugural events. The three most admired Americans may be Oprah Winfrey (Bush's kiss of her helped reignite his sagging campaign), Colin Powell and Michael Jordan, and the three most eminent African Americans in public service -- Clarence Thomas, Powell and Condoleezza Rice -- have ascended with Republican sponsorship. Yet the Black Caucus in its time warp clings to the idea that African Americans are as much victims of racism as they were 40 years ago.I know, file this GOP hypocracy under "No d'uh" but it is very illustrative of how willing the GOP is to exploit race when it is convenient to do so, in particularly in terms of Colin Powell.