Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell's doubts

I saw this really awesome ad on last night:

Here it is, close-up:

The ad is not a product of the McCain campaign, but of The National Republican Trust PAC. It depicts Barack Obama giving a driver's license to undocumented immigrants, specifically Mohammed Atta, one of the hijackers on September 11, 2001. I'm not sure what the point here is, since Mohammad Atta was in the country legally (as a five-year resident of Germany his visa application was basically rubber-stamped).

The ad, though, illustrates the urgency of what Colin Powell said on Meet The Press this morning. I'm not necessarily talking about his endoresement of Obama, though my informal survey of internet news sites and the Twitter politics feed suggests the endorsement is all anyone heard. Powell actually had very complementary things to say about Obama and McCain. What seemed more significant to me is that he also epressed very serious reservations about the direction and tone of the Repubican Party.

Getting past that he's voting for Obama, I wondered how long this has been welling up in Powell. His endorsement, at the end of an uninterupted six minute monologue (see below), was not offhand or even issue-specific; a guy who has served as National Security Adviser to Ronald Reagan, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush's Secretary of State, went on television and said he sees no place for himelf, or anyone with moderate views, in the Republican Party. He talked more how narow and frustrating he found the party orthodoxy than he did about Obama.

This sense that the party has backed itself into a far-right corner has been around more this election than in past ones. There's footage in PBS's great Frontline documentary The Choice: 2008 of McCain being heckled and booed when he spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2008. It's also a theme Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter, has also been voicing and the reason Christopher Buckley severed his relationship with The National Review, the magazine his father founded. The Economist explicitly called for McCain to stop pandering to that wing of the party and subsequently has said nothing remotely nice about his choosing a running mate simply to please it.

The whole episode (sorry, it has commercials) of Meet The Press is worth watching, but here's the operative 6 minutes:

I hope republicans concerned for the future of their party listened very carefully to him.

By the way, if you want to read some scary stuff, go find the website for The National Republican Trust PAC. I'm not linking to it.

1 comment:

Fox said...

I find the Buckley-Noonan-Brooks-Heather McDonald-George Will-Ross Douthat vs. National Review & talk radio to be a fun and fascinating fight. Not fun b/c the punches and bruises, but b/c it's airing a lot of the internal differences between conservatives. I like internal debating because it generates a lot of good talk. I would especially point to Ross Douthat's blog as a good source for a lot of back and forth.

I think my favorite thing that Kathleen Parker said (her column is syndicated and NRO runs it) is that Buckley's exit - which has been overplayed since he's still on the ownership board of National Review - may ignite a third party in the way his father and Goldwater changed the Republican party in the 60's.

I didn't see the Powell interview, but the disagreement between the two sides of the debate I mentioned above seems to be on intellectualism vs. populism and how it applies to Sarah Palin. Palin definitely stokes a lot of the far right crazies, but I don't think Buckley and Noonan have as much a problem with that as they do with the "unfit for command" qualities of Palin, which I agree with.

Good post!