Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Fall and Fall of Colin Powell

Wow! I was just over at the Cynics's Party and they've got nothing but strong words of derogation and abuse for the most well known General in America.

Despite the fact that Powell is a card-carrying Republican that allowed his prestige and gravitas to be used by the Bush43 administration, I've always held him in high esteem. The Republican thing never bothered me that much, because if Black people are going to become fully vested in the American Dream and the American political system we have to get off the Democratic plantation. Seriously, the DNC acts like it owns Black votes and we saw that attitude reflected in Bill Clinton's asinine comments during the Democratic primaries.

One friend of mine who is a Black, card-carrying Republican broke it down by saying if there was no racism *most* Black people would be Republicans. He further explained that no one group of people loves church and hates gays, the calling cards of the Religious Right, more than Black people. Ignoring the cognitive dissonance of assuming there is no more racism but homophobia is alive and well, I can't help but agree with my man. If you wanted to get even deeper into it, you could point to the issue of school choice too.

But I digress, back to Gen. Powell. I'm actually the only member of my immediate family that doesn't know the man, or hasn't met him on multiple occasions. BigDaddyRat crossed paths with Gen. Powell several times over the course of his 32 year career in the Army, MommaRat knows Alma Powell and has been to the Powell home on several occasions, and SisterRat worked with Gen. Powell at America's Promise a few years back. So my impressions of Colin Powell aren't just drawn from news clips, but rather people that have worked with him and for him and see the guy when the cameras are off. What they tell me is that he's a decent dude, with a strong sense of duty and fairness.

What I have to wonder is how did a man who accomplished so much in his life fall so far from grace? I guess joining the Bush43 administration had a lot to do with it and the dog & pony show he put on at the UN in the lead up to the Iraq war was the nail in the coffin. Still, is it fair for the chattering classes to place so much of the blame for the Iraq fiasco on Colin Powell?

Gen. Powell doesn't believe that anything he could have said or done would have prevented Iraq from happening. In that context, his decision to stay in the Bush43 administration was a logical one; the only way he could hope to influence events in a positive way was as the Secretary of State.

Sometimes we expect too much from our leaders. They are men and women just like the rest of us, with the same faults, flaws, and fears that keep us from being perfect and always doing the right thing. It's a mistake to castigate Colin Powell and disregard the 40+ years he spent serving our country. Was choosing to serve Bush43 a colossal fuck up on Powell's part? No doubt. But I think Mos Def said it best in the song "Umi Says":

I ain't no perfect man
I'm trying to do, the best that I can,
With what it is I have


Knockout Ed said...

1st I have to completely disagree with the "hip-hop republican". To say that most Black people would be Republicans if not for racism for starters is a total indictment of the GOP. Statements like that will get a brother called an Uncle Tom; because if one believes that then how can you be a Republican if you're black? You are saying that the GOP is a racist political party. That's not my main point though. Most Blacks wouldn't be Republican because we have the highest rate of poverty in our ranks. I think most Blacks think the GOP doesn't care about poor people more than they think the GOP is racist.
On Powell I completely agree with you. Yes Powell fucked up but to hold that over the man's head for the rest of his life as if that's the essence of the man if inexcusable to me. A lot of the same liberals saying that stuff are the same ones arguing for rehabilitation of criminals. I agree but criminals aren't the only ones who get to make up for their misdeeds. You can argue that Powell's actions caused more harm than any one man or woman in jail has caused but you'd be wrong. That's just scapegoating Powell & letting the rest 'em off the hook.

Hill Rat said...


As always, thanks for taking the time to comment.

I hear what you're saying about the "hip-hop Republican", however there's a difference between a party that does racist shit and a racist party but that may be a distinction without a difference.

As far as the GOP not caring about poor people, are you saying that the Democrats actually care about the poor? Let's not forget that it was Bill Clinton who passed welfare reform.

There are also a ton of White, blue collar, working class Republicans who vote against their own economic interest. Absent the question of race, why would you assume that Black people who are down with the GOP's social agenda would be any different?

Knockout Ed said...

I think it is a distinction without a difference.

I think Democrats do care about the poor. I think your statement about the white working class is saying that. They can't vote against their economic interest if Democratic party policies don't favor them. That being said I think that point is only partly true. Kerry won people who make less than 50,000 a year by 11 points in '04.

I also don't think Black folk as a whole are really concerned enough with Homosexuals, abortion or any of that stuff for it to be a significant factor in the voting booth. Yes I Black people in general are socially conservative but we have much, much more on our collective minds. There is a reason why wealthier Blacks are more likely to be part of the GOP.

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