Colin Powell, George Bush’s former secretary of state, today dealt his own party a major blow when he threw his weight behind the bid by Barack Obama to become the next president of the United States.
The four-star general spurned his good friend John McCain to heap praise on the “transformational figure” of Obama, saying America needed a “generational change”.
In a swipe at both Bush and McCain, he added: “I firmly believe that at this point in America’s history, we need a president that will not just continue, even with a new face and with the changes and with some maverick aspects, who will not just continue basically the policies that we have been following in recent years.”
And it’s necessary. McCain has finally realised his GOP attack machine is still effective, as long as he farms the nastiness out to subordinates:
According to the election analysis site FiveThirtyEight.com, some Pennsylvanians have complained about a call that impersonates Barack Obama and includes racial epithets:
“Over in Indiana, PA and Northern Cambria, PA, volunteers fielded complaints of a massive wave of ugly robocalls both paid for by John McCain’s campaign and those paid for by third parties. The third party call was interactive, and purported to be from Barack Obama himself. The call starts out reasonably, and then “Obama” asks what the listener thinks is the most important issue. Whatever the response, “Obama” then launches into a profane and crazed tirade using “n***er” and other shock language.”
Except today his own nastiness came back:
WALLACE: But Senator back, if I may, back in 2000 when you were the target of robo calls, you called these hate calls and you said–
MCCAIN: They were.
WALLACE: And you said the following: “I promise you I have never and will never have anything to do with that kind of political tactic.” Now you’ve hired the same guy who did the robocalls against you to, reportedly, to do the robocalls against Obama and the Republican Senator Susan Collins, the co-chair of your campaign in Maine, has asked you to stop the robocalls. Will you do that?
MCCAIN: Of course not. These are legitimate and truthful and they are far different than the phone calls that were made about my family and about certain aspects that — things that this is — this is dramatically different and either you haven’t — didn’t see those things in 2000.
WALLACE: No, I saw them.
MCCAIN: Or you don’t know the difference between that and what is a legitimate issue, and that is Senator Obama being truthful with the American people.
And while this nonsense continues, people are responding to it:
The GOP is getting so panicky at McCain’s imminent failure that they’re lashing out at any political difference, even within Congress! It’s not just racism, it’s now Obama v fascism itself:
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed on Friday that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held anti-American views and couldn’t be trusted in the White House. She even called for the major newspapers of the country to investigate other members of Congress to “find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.”
Powell’s intervention is a shot of reason into a fight again lapsed into insanity. I don’t think for a moment that his endorsement is an election-swinger – his participation in the Bush I administration and his discredited presentation to the UN about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq caused his star to wane many years ago, and being the same race as Obama will no doubt not convince loonies like the man in the earlier video to change their allegiances. However as perhaps the most respected military man of the age, who has successfully worked for both Democrats and Republicans, his endorsement is significant, particularly because McCain is still trading on his steadfastness, his military record and foreign policy experience to convince doubters of his suitability as Commander-in-Chief. It will also keep a positive Obama story in the media for days to come (and we’ve only 15 of them left), and reinforce McCain’s negativity, at a time he can ill afford to be seen as erratic and of poor judgment as he’s already demonstrated himself to be.