Colin Powell to Denounce the Lynch Mobs

We were discussing yesterday whether having the guy who lied to the UN to justify our illegal war in Iraq endorse Obama is a good thing or not. I wrote this.

One more thought on Powell.

I’m outtamyarse guessing that whether or not he endorses on Sunday, he will say something about the violence being stoked by McPalin.

It’s another moment–even more important one, IMO–like the UM affirmative action cases before SCOTUS, when he came out strongly for affirmative action. And this kind of racially-tinged violence would offend his sense of both decency–and what is necessary for a healthy country (you could even argue it hurts the troops when this kind of racism is stoked).

I even wonder (really outtmyarse) whether Powell was the one who got McCain to correct the woman who called Obama an Arab terrorist. Powell is one of the few people who could get McCain to do what he wants right now, bc McCain still wants to forestall an Obama endorsement. And McCain’s failure to call off the she-dog might well be enough to tip Powell. 

Apparently, my outta-arse is working better on politics these days than it is on football–at least for the first part of my guess (h/t karpaty lviv).

 Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is widely expected Sunday to denounce the personal attacks against Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.


The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, said his ex-boss was "upset" by the "vitriol, bile and prejudice" aimed at Obama on the campaign trail.

"We’ve talked about this and I know it really bothers him and I’d expect him to talk about it," he said.

Say what you will about Powell, but unlike (say) Clarence Thomas, Powell has always done the right thing on race in this country. And the right thing, right now, is to shut down the ugly, violent racism driving the McCain campaign. 

If Powell is successful at shaming McCain into calling off his dogs, it will be a very important thing–not only for getting Obama elected, but also for governing this country going forward. 

63 replies
  1. emptywheel says:

    And FWIW, I came down on the side of a Powell endorsement being a good thing.

    I think that not because I have any respect for the country. But because I think a Powell endorsement would make it easier for Obama to govern, it would help him fight back against DOD’s attempt to demand the moon budgetarily which they’ve already threatened to do, and it may encourage the Republicans to reinvent themselves in their old more moderate form.

    • MadDog says:

      You are such a softie! *g*

      When I was reading Steve Clemon’s first take on Powell’s MTP appearance tomorrow, most commenters rendered nothing but Bronx cheers.

      And then came Wilkerson’s wee note, but Steve still thinks Obama will get Colin’s nod.

      I agree with many progressive cognoscenti that Powell’s performances, particularly in this criminal Administration, are deserving of much condemnation.

      However, like you EW, I also agree that a Powell endorsement would still have considerable political value.

      Strange how life is like that.

  2. foothillsmike says:

    Powell’s endorsement would be beneficial in two ways
    1. Have sway with many moderates including independents and repubs
    2. Help to portray the campaign for what it is – sleaze

  3. Palli says:

    Say what I will- he gentrified fear-mongering shaking that vial. What he is doing is the least of what he should be doing. But I’ll wait and listen to how he says it…he is a political opportunist. If he mentions John Lewis – a real moral hero and one of the common heros in that stage of the struggle- and says:” listen to him he feels the danger in his bones”. He doesn’t need to talk to “those people”, they don’t care about him. He needs to talk to McCain. What ever happened to the idea of public shunning?

  4. Ishmael says:

    Powell may have a good record on race, but I will always remember how he supported the homophobia about gays in the military when Clinton was elected and came close to supporting a mutiny on the issue, wounding Clinton right out of the gate – no Commander in Chief fetish when Democrats are in the White House. If Powell does say anything worthwhile on MTP tomorrow, he will use it to burnish his own reputation, and he will not help Obama overtly by an actual endorsement at the expense of his Republican bona fides. His motivation will be more to rebuild his own reputation as a Great American – he has always supported his Republican patrons since he was directed to whitewash the My Lai massacre.

  5. bmaz says:

    For all the faults that have been, and always will be, duly noted; Powell has always struck me as a very decent man at heart. In fact, his decency and loyalty may have been strong enough to create the very weaknesses that led to his everlasting shame. It also strikes me that Powell understands this.

    That said, I don’t see logically how he can come out strongly against the “vitriol, bile and prejudice” of the McCain campaign and not endorse Obama. How can you be so repulsed by that and still give deference to the man doing it? Plus, Powell likes Obama and has been advising him off the record for a long time. I think Powell is going to flat out say he is voting for Obama.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think that logic makes a lot of sense (and more importantly, I think there’s no way he can endorse McCain with its lynch mobs).

      But similar logic would have said Powell wouldn’t have done the things he did for the Bush Administration he needed to do. One of the last things he did, for example, was legitimize the crappy ass “laptop of death” “evidence” on Iran. After the UN, he should never have fallen for Cheney’s tricks again. That he did–and frankly, that Cheney’s exhortions not to endorse Obama have thus far been successfull–is one of the reasons I’m not counting on an Obama endorsement–at least not yet.

      Though, given how childish McCain’s campaign is, he could have said, “clean up the racism within three days–from top to bottom in the GOP–or I will endorse Obama.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, I agree with that too. I dunno. I still think Powell is a decent guy, but an awfully weak one in a lot of respects. Freep is right, he is an enigma.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, that is certainly an awfully compelling and well supported comment you have made there. Thanks so much for enlightening us all with your brilliant knowledge and wisdom. You must be one of those “Real Americans”. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

        • lilcimp says:

          Unless you have experience racism 1st hand, you have no idea of what racism is. and mccain/palin are basically saying to their supports that is it ok to yell out things that they were saying becuase they have no respect for obama or any one of color. so what is obama is hurt or injured, they want shed a tear. They belong to the same party that for years turned their backs on the minorities
          And please don’t mention that Lincoln was a repbulican and fried the slaves!! he did not!! his emancipation only freed a small portion of slaves in certain states. Slaves were not freed until the amandent was passed to free them. It really ticks me off when republicans try to use that tatic to earn the vote of blacks.
          Some democrats are not much better either. so if powell does denouce mccain/palin on what is going on unless the entire county denounces it, nothing will change..
          PS-Palin looks like a stuck up witch on SNL!!!

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        I think your and bmaz’s assessment of Powell is right on. In his own writings Powell claims to have attempted to model his approach to his career to that of George Marshall, who was arguably the most competent non-elected public servant this country has ever had. Much as he tried, however, he didn’t quite measure up.

        Two key facets to Marshall’s conduct were, first, his absolute commitment to the primacy of the civilian, political leadership over the military, and secondly the need to maintain an arms-length, professional relationship with that leadership while at the same time being totally candid with it when asked to provide his and the Army’s input on policy matters. A military leader’s role, Marshall felt, was to make is best effort at discerning what course of action was in the best interest of the country, strongly advocate it, but if the political leaderships’ decision went in another direction, work to implement it to the best of ones ability. The hallmark of this approach in action was Marshall’s acceptance of FDR’s decision to place Eisenhower in command of the Normandy Invasion, even though such a command was his own lifetime personal goal and had recommended, with good cause, that he himself was the most qualified person for it. But FDR had judged, probably rightly in the final analysis, that Marshall’s presence on the Chiefs of Staff was essential to the continued smooth functioning of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Combined Chiefs.

        Regarding the arms-length business, there is a famous incident in which during a meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt and his other national security poobahs that took place not long after FDR had vaulted Marshall into the Chief of Staff position over scores of more senior officers, the President said something to the effect of “Well, George, what do you think of that?” Before replying to the content of the question Marshall first said “Mr. President, I’d prefer that after this you refer to me as General Marshall.” And he did! Never again was he ever heard to him as anything other than “General Marshall.”

        One must remember that Marshall had the privilege and good fortune of serving two of the most competent Presidents in our history: FDR and Truman. One can only imagine what the outcome would have been if the incompetent, insecure George W. Bush had tried to hang one of his disrespectful nicknames on a contemporary Marshall. Powell, to his ill fortune, was in what William Lind called the most difficult of all positions: he was a minister to an idiot king.

    • Leen says:

      With you on this.

      Keep thinking about that speech at the UN
      NOW’s Brancaccio’s interview with Col Wilkerson and the “dress rehearsal” before the UN speech….._full.html

      WILKERSON: I remember when we were doing the dress rehearsal in New York City. We were at the top floor of the U.S. mission in New York City. And I had laid out the room to look like it was the Security Council, complete with little placards. We came to the end, and the Secretary turned to Mr. Tenet and he said, “George, you back up everything, right? One last chance.” And Mr. Tenet said, “Absolutely, Mr. Secretary.” And the Secretary said, “Well, that’s good George, because you’re going to be with me tomorrow. You’re going to be in camera with me. And if you’ll look at the film, there’s Mr. Tenet sitting beside Powell.”

      BRANCACCIO: In fact, there were major doubts inside the intelligence community about about everything that was being said about the Iraq threat, even as Powell’s speech was being planned and delivered. Lawrence Wilkerson now suspects the administration may have used Powell.

      BRANCACCIO: Is it reasonable to think the administration knew about this skepticism?

      WILKERSON: Six months ago, I would have said no. Since that time, however, there have been some revelations.

      BRANCACCIO: Those revelations are fueling Wilkerson’s concern that the administration may have known its claims were anything but a slam dunk. And in recent weeks, there have been a string of them. Take just one example: the claim that Saddam Hussein had mobile laboratories to produce deadly germs like anthrax.

      POWELL: We have first hand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails.

      BRANCACCIO: David Kay used to be the chief American weapons inspector in Iraq. He was also at the U.N. that day. Of all the things Kay heard, he says the words “mobile factories” frightened him most.

      DAVID KAY, WEAPONS EXPERT: You know, my background as an inspector, the worst thing that could happen is trying to find something that is in fact not physically fixed, but is mobile. There are tens of thousands of trucks running around Iraq.

      BRANCACCIO: After the war began, David Kay and his team went to Iraq. The first thing they went looking for: those mobile labs.

      KAY: When I get access to the complete file, I discover that this is really based on something that I would have been embarrassed to have a six year old take in as a class science project.

      BRANCACCIO: And who was the basis of that information, says Kay? A secret source code-named “Curveball.”

      BRANCACCIO: You’ve been quoted as saying that Curveball’s allegations were, I think your phrase was, total hokum.

      KAY: Well, they were a complete fabrication. They were made up, as far as we could tell, out of whole cloth.

  6. freepatriot says:

    powell is an enigma

    despite being a total stooge and life long apologist for repuglitard war mongering, powell still has an unjustified respect that comes from being a token black general

    people who pay attention to these things know about the stench surrounding powell, but uninformed voters don’t know how powell’s history should preclude any possible respect for his actions

    the well informed voters who know powell have pretty much decided who they’re gonna vote for. powell isn’t going to sway anybody to or away from Obama in this group

    powell appeals to the uninformed and low information undecided voters, and he will sway people toward Obama in this group

    so if you measure powell’s value along these lines, powell’s endorsement is valuable

      • freepatriot says:

        saw that

        bet you kinda feel like kathy parker right now

        has bmaz actually started the coup yet, is is he still planning how to oust you over your flip-flop ???

        and I had a stray thought about the kathy parker saga, with all the stories being written about the freppi turning on parker, how were we denied the joy of reading an article titled “Kathy Parker and the vicious circle” (this ain’t exactly your grandfather’s Algonquin round table)

        big blue up by 7 in happy valley, wtf ???

    • Ishmael says:

      I actually think that the main value of a Powell endorsement would be with the press, who continue to venerate him, and not with the low-info voters. This would certainly have value though, and would put McCain on the defensive for a few news cycles.

      • emptywheel says:

        Aside from what I said about governance, I think the biggest value is it would bug McCain out some more.

        Now if it were to happen tomorrow, for example, it’d be especially interesting since McCain is on FNS at the same time as Powell will be on MTP. Now, presumably if Powell is going to endorse, he’ll give McCain a head’s up. But that means either McCain’s going to have to admit that his old friend Powell was actually on TV at the same time he was, endorsing his rival. Or he’d have to subject himself to Fox asking about it–and pretending to be surprised.

        Now, it’s likely that McCain will get off at about the time that Powell makes any announcement. But still–imagine how it would fuck with his head to have this dilemma tomorrow.


      • MadDog says:

        You make an excellent point.

        The Villagers are the enamored faithful of MTP, so a Powell endorsement there has an “inside baseball” flavor to it.

        And if the flyover land folks also happen to catch MTP while washing their chickens and mowing their corn, so much the better.

  7. masaccio says:

    Nancy Pfotenhauer essentially admits to McCain’s appeal to the racist vote in the clip on EW’s last post. Surely Colin Powell isn’t going to let that pass.

  8. NelsonAlgren says:

    Though, given how childish McCain’s campaign is, he could have said, “clean up the racism within three days–from top to bottom in the GOP–or I will endorse Obama.

    Do you really think that is what would put Powell over the top? He’s an admitted very cautious person. Did the dam finally burst, so to speak?

  9. Diane says:

    When Lawrence O’Donnell posted on HuffPo earlier this week, my thoughts ran to how Fox was going to deflect the effect of a Republican Four Star General/Sect’y of State – didn’t take long to find out.

  10. Leen says:

    Maybe Colin Powell will have some visual aids on Meet The Press to bring home the hate speech going round.

    Check out this madman…..ulous.html

    The way he did when the Bush administration used him to lie to the world about WMD’s in Iraq.

  11. Leen says:

    Public responding to Bachmann’s hate mongering tirade on Hardball
    Tell Congress to Censure Michele Bachmann

    signatures so far
    updated 10/18 3:23 p.m.

    On the October 17 episode of MSNBC’s Hardball, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota claimed that Barack Obama and other members of Congress share anti-American views.

    Bachmann thinks that anyone who disagrees with her personal political agenda is unpatriotic. But she is the one who has a lot to learn about what it means to love America.

    Her fellow members of Congress need to take a stand and tell Michele Bachmann that her disgusting accusations have no place in our country. Tell Congress to censure Rep. Bachmann.

    Thank You

    Thank you for signing on to our petition calling on Congress to censure Michele Bachmann. We’ll keep you updated!

    You can also help Michele Bachmann get kicked out of Congress on November 4 by supporting her opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg. The race is close, and you can make the difference!

    Click here to contribute to his campaign!

    The comments for the blog about Michelle Bachman at Huffington Post is up to 7219. Damn how high can it go?

    • freepatriot says:

      Public responding to Bachmann’s hate mongering tirade on Hardball

      according to Tristero, Tinklenberg has raised over $125,000 from ActBlue in the past 24 hours or so. that ain’t chump change in a small market state like Minnesota

      and that don’t count semi-luddites like me who only donate thru snail mail

      ot, mcsame’s robo calls might just bury collins in Maine, so you know I been smilin

      67, mutherfuckers

  12. freepatriot says:

    if anybody is wondering what happened to the promised trash talking thread, I got two theories

    emptywheel went off the reservation a few threads back, rooting for Joe Pa over Big Blue. this devious and world changing flip flop encouraged bmaz, the leading rogue minion around here, to attempt to seize the controls of this blog. the trash talking thread will appear when the power struggle is resolved

    or, this cheesy blog gets it’s threads from the same company that sells the coyote his rocket roller skates and bird seed

    take your pick …

    big blue 17, Joe Pa 7

    OU 24, kansas 17

    Alabama 24, Ole Miss 10 (Alabama is beatin up some old lady ???)

    if you ever need to learn how to watch 3 football games simultaneously, stop by on a saturday in October, and bring whiskey …

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m not doing trash because I got nothing left after trashing McPalin, I’ve found. (Though I did call the Brownies to win on Monday.)

        bmaz? What’s his excuse? He’s prolly lollygagging in the sun.

        • randiego says:

          well don’t forget, this monday we have the Toms at home against Denver. I’ll be cheering for their resurrection – although there’s a rumor floating around that bmaz is a closet Denver fan.

        • freepatriot says:

          bmaz? … He’s prolly lollygagging in the sun

          that’s what he WANTS you to think …

          and I think I agree with randiego’s NTB theory

          without Tom Brady, the nfl is all goober faced QBs (the mannings, brees, orton, et al) and a bunch of plumber’s cracked offensive linemen

          no sex appeal at all

          thank god …

  13. randiego says:

    Texas Tech beat Texas A&M (very) early this morning, which is a big game for both schools – always vying for the #2 spot in the state. Tech is now 7-0.

    I was at a game-watching party at a bar at 9am. Woof. Fortunately the Tech fans outnumbered the A&M fans by 2-1. If you know A&M fans, obnoxious doesn’t quite cover it.

  14. randiego says:

    If you know A&M fans, obnoxious doesn’t quite cover it.

    If I might say one more thing about this. It’s always men who lead the cheers – and I’m talking about at the bar – and one can reasonably assume that they practice quite a bit.

    There’s something that’s just wrong about that…

  15. Leen says:

    Michelle Bachmann is getting her ass kicked down the field
    24 hours ago, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann announced that all those who disagree with her are “Anti-American.” Since then, the outpouring of support for my campaign has been extraordinary. Since Congresswoman Bachmann’s outrageous remarks, my campaign has raised $438,346.57, and we’re working to reach $500,000 by 5 p.m. today. Congresswoman Bachmann’s extreme ideology divides people, but her comments on MSNBC’s Hardball have united all of those who believe that I will jump start the ecomomy on Main Street by creating jobs and rebuilding our infrastructure. As a Minister and Mayor, I brought people together. I believe that we build by addition, not division. I want to thank you all. It is now clear that we have the momentum to win and I ask for your financial support. I will keep everyone posted.

    Thank you,

    El Tinklenberg…..18/…

  16. Eureka Springs says:

    There are only two words worth placing near Colin Powell’s name -WAR CRIMINAL.

    Please, Colin, do not endorse Obama, because I will lose it when Obama fails to denounce and reject Colin like the War Criminal he is.

    How can we hope for better justice departments, better military, better anything accountability related when we knowing citizens prepare to accept Colin Powell into our picture without demanding accountability, demanding denouncements, demanding war investigation/crimes charges?

  17. radiofreewill says:

    If Powell endorses Obama tomorrow, then I’ll take it also that Obama is endorsing Powell, as well.

    There’s no doubt, Powell got ‘duped’ into ‘Endorsing’ the Run-Up to the War. Powell’s ‘cred,’ dating back to the First Gulf War, was needed by Bush to give ‘legitimacy’ to a Pre-Emptive Invasion.

    By accepting Powell’s endorsement tomorrow, I take it that Obama is saying that he believes in the Noble Powell, not the Duped Powell – I take it that Obama is saying that Powell’s Honor will be restored when a Full Accounting is Given of his Actions.

    For my part, I’ve never thought that Powell went along with Torture. No Way. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that Powell – as one of the Principals – got off the Bush Train over Torture.

    But, for the time being, I’m going to take Powell’s endorsement of Obama as Symbolic of the Plight of Many Good, Concientious Government Employees – who got their Reputations Bush-Slimed, and Want the Opportunity to Clear their Name and Restore their Honor.

  18. siri says:

    Marci (sp?), you know how I respect you and your work, and I’m not critiquing anything here, HOWEVER, (longer word for “but”), I have to ask why is ANYONE caring one whit what Powell ever thinks or says? After his UN speech, for which he apologized, or whatever, I know, I read it, but still………After his totally false and deadly statement to the UN, WTF?
    He just lost all credibility with me then. His words hold NO importance to me and my respect for him is just terminally damaged now. One reason why I’m so “non-forgiving” here is that I KNEW the whole thing against Iraq smelled from the first time Chimp said the name of the country on TV after 9/11, and when Powell made his case to the UN, well, THAT just stunk outright. It’s not like small common folk who bother to READ cannot think for themselves and know that his little UN chat was total manure. BECAUSE I’m only a simple reader, not an attorney, not a statesman, not an expert in anything political and little ME/I knew he was spinning and selling and lying, and because he did that to those on that level who sit at the UNITED FRIGGIN NATIONS, for God’s sake!, I don’t care one damned bit what he says or thinks now. That he supports Obama is, to me, just common sense, but WHY is this of such utmost importance? He just blew it with this country to the tune of 4000+ men and women I honor and would have liked to see have superb lives for their commitment. They’re not here anymore, and Powell is a key reason as to WHY.
    So, respectfully to you Marcy, really, please don’t take this wrong, but,
    Ever in time??????
    Thank you so much for the work and the research and the insightful to point of jaw dropping amazement content of your articles, as always!
    With All Due Respect……
    and KINDLY,

    • bmaz says:

      Because it is not about you and your sensibilities (which I understand and mostly agree with by the way); it is about getting Obama elected. Colin Powell, irrespective of what any of us think of him, does still carry weight and significance with a great many independents and moderate Republicans. He also carries big cache with the military. Having him on board will make it easier for Obama to get elected, and once elected, to govern the nation as a whole and lead the military.

      Powell made a heinous and regrettable mistake in judgment. He has acknowledged that and apologized. That doesn’t make it all right or okay, but it should not serve as a bar to him trying to accomplish something positive later in life. A little perspective maybe…

    • emptywheel says:

      Note this post says next to nothing about Powell endorsing Obama. While I would take that–since it’d help Obama get elected and (more importantly) govern, what I was talking about was Powell calling out the lynch mobs for what they are.

      So while you can think Powell is beyond forgiveness all you want, what I’m mostly interested in is whether he can help Obama (or some underpaid ACORN organizer) avoid getting killed. If he can help do that–and I believe he can–then I’m happy for what he’ll say tomorrow.

      Powell may have the ability to shame McCain into calling a halt to the lynch mobs. And if he does–and if he uses that ability–I couldn’t be happier about it.

  19. Neil says:

    John McCain has once again improved his position in the national tracking polls, having gained ground in 4 of the 5 6 trackers that published today (Rasmussen and IBD/TIPP were the exceptions).** Our model now perceives that Obama has come somewhat off his peak numbers, which were realized perhaps 5-7 days ago.

    Today’s Polls, 10/18…..-1018.html

  20. tryggth says:

    It will be interesting to hear what Powell says tomorrow. Guess the significance would be direct swayed votes and contributing by example to future R2D endorsements in the coming two weeks.

    The two biggie rationales I have heard are: 1) his disgust with the racist tones of the McCain campaign and, 2) his concern about the neocons in McCain’s policy apparatus. It is pretty easy to imagine how either of those things would be too much for him to stomach. I bet he mentions both.

    But the most interesting thing will be the noise machine reaction. Powell knows where the bodies are buried (and unfornately probably held the shovel in a couple of instances – think WH torture briefings). But he could inflict massive damage on the Repubs if he wanted to.

  21. MadDog says:

    More OT, but it made me chuckle – At Steve Clemon’s place:

    Anger on the Right at McCain

    …But something that is very off color and that I should discreetly report is what one of the most well-known conservative commentators in the world said to me privately in Chicago. I won’t report the name of the individual, but he/she said:

    What are we to think of McCain’s choice of Palin? It’s outrageous — an insult to the nation and an insult to everything the man has supposedly stood for all his life.

    McCain’s decision is right up there in the history books — right up there with Caligula appointing his horse to the Senate.

    No self-respecting conservative can support McCain now.

    (My Bold)

    Do horses wear lipstick too?

    • WilliamOckham says:

      No, I’m not buying this. My son pointed out years ago that the true latter-day equivalent of Caligula appointed his horse to the Senate was Bush’s recess appointment of John Bolton as UN Ambassador. It’s hard to imagine a bigger FU to the whole world that to send a guy to the UN who once said:

      If the U.N. secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.

  22. janesbrain says:

    I’m a great admirer of Colin Powell’s. I don’t believe he knew there was no WMD when he testified before the U.N. because he’s an honorable guy & wouldn’t intentionally lie, especially in order to start a war. I also think this WMD fiasco was the last straw & that’s why he quit… but those are just my thoughts.

    • freepatriot says:

      he knew the aluminum tube story was BULLSHIT

      I read an article about powell holing up in hotel room to review the evidence, and flat out rejecting one of the tubes as a prop, with the statement “why should I display the least convincing piece of evidence”

      powell might have cover for some of the WMD lies, but you ain’t ever gonna get me to believe that colin powell NEVER SAW A FUCKING ROCKET BODY BEFORE

      the fucking diameter of the tubes was a DEAD GIVEAWAY

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