Sunday, October 19, 2008

A General Endorsement



Last week, Bill Maher had director Oliver Stone on his show to promote the then-impending release of his film W. In talking about his attempt to gain an insight into George W. Bush's thinking, Stone mentioned something that stuck out to me; his conclusion (hardly a revolutionary one) that Bush lives in a completely blissful, completely guilt-free bubble, content in the certainty of his righteousness, and blissfully oblivious to the havoc he's wrought on his country and his world.

I've often wondered if the other denizens of the Bush inner circle live similarly guilt-free lives in the stark and damning face of history. Certainly I've wondered that about Colin Powell. Before, during, and after his time in the W Administration, he's always been portrayed as the cooler head that never prevailed, having originated the now-famous "You break it, you own it" warning in advance of Iraq, and who ultimately left his post as Secretary of State in a supposed bout of conscience.

And yet, overshadowing all of his supposed thoughtfulness and supposed cautiousness, his image as the stoic, noble soldier, is the fact that he sat in front of the UN in early '03 and either willfully or ignorantly misled the world into believing a threat existed and there was none. Knowing what happened in the invasion's aftermath, knowing the physical, political, and moral capital our country has lost, I've often wondered if Powell feels a sense of guilt for his part in perpetuating the Bush agenda.

Now, the last thing I want is to psychoanalyze the guy, but I wonder if today's interview with Meet the Press, in which Powell issued a full-throated endorsement for Barack Obama's candidacy, and a full-throated denunciation of John McCain's campaign tactics (if not the man himself), is Powell's way, in some small fashion, of making amends for his part in Bush's Iraq fiasco -- at least in his own mind.

Regardless of what his intentions may or may not be, there's no question that this endorsement is a bad thing for John McCain, no matter how he and his minions try to spin it. A war hero like Powell backing Obama effectively cuts the leg out from the under the "Pals around with terrorists" stuff the Republicans are using to cement the low-info vote.

The question I have is what the far right loons who protested just a little bit too much that they aren't racist, that they'd gladly vote for a Condi Rice or a Colin Powell, are going to say now.

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