God Bless Colin Powell

At least one member of the family is uncomfortable endorsing political candidates, especially at the national level. However, the relentlessly negative tone of this year’s campaign demands a response.

Thankfully, Colin Powell did it for me on Meet the Press last weekend. He directly rebuked his old friend, Senator John McCain, for the climate of intolerance in his campaign. I have been praying that someone of stature would finally do that. Despite his UN testimony on Iraqi WMDs, I think he has the stature for this.

As noted in Eugene Robinson’s Post blog, Powell hit the Republican campaign for intolerance on two levels. First, McCain stands by while crowds of supporters call Obama “a Muslim” which he is not. Second, it’s fundamentally un-American to suggest that being a Muslim would disqualify him for the Presidency.

This is Nixon’s old “Southern strategy” coming home to roost. You take old-school bigots, relabel them as “conservatives” and you court them. You let them fume at those they hate and you encourage their hatred, since it supports your side.

Now McCain is stuck. He has, at one rally, rebuked his supporters for such misbehavior, but he can’t keep doing that. You can’t rebuke your supporters on TV over and over again without turning them away from you. They still won’t vote for Obama, but they won’t vote for McCain, either, since his remaining shreds of character and tolerance show he’s not really bigoted enough for them.

The way things are going, however, I wonder if McCain will manage to retain any of his dignity, character, or self-respect by the time this campaign is over. If he wins, I fear he’ll conclude that George W. was right – you don’t need friends on the “other side” once you’re President.

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