In a few hours, former W Sec’y of State, Gen. Colin Powell will appear on Meet the Press and announce which presidential candidate he’s backing. A lot of gas has been generated around the possibility that his pick will be Barack Obama. The prospect seems to be giving the vapors to a lot of people in both campaigns for the boost it will give Powell’s pick, and the consequent deflation that will be felt on the opposite side. I don’t see a lot of plausible reason to imagine that Powell isn’t going to plunk for McCain. First of all, to do otherwise would be well out of character on grounds of loyalty alone.
This is the same man, after all, with a lot of reputation invested in the outcome of Iraq, and whose name will be forever tied in with those who put forward the bogus rationale for invading in the first place. Powell is not separable from Iraq, no matter who wins the election. There will be a lot less damage to control if McCain wins, and there is not reason to think that the general buys into the spreading view that a McCain presidency would be an exponential expansion of the miasma that has been and remains the W Administration. McCain and Powell didn’t break Dubya, but they own him in the minds of many.
At 71, Powell’s regard for his own posterity may trump his sense of loyalty in the minds of wishful-thinking pundits, or those for whom issues of race are stronger than would normally be the case at other times. There is not a single bit of evidence that I am aware of, that suggests Gen. Powell is likely to be motivated by racial determinism as he advances on the decision. That may bother some people, but I would argue that, if race would motivate so strongly a person of Powell’s prominence to override such considerations as party loyalty, personal legacy or the resulting path of history, then Sec’y of State Condoleeza Rice would be a more likely candidate.
The Republica Party may be on the verge of extinction here, and if Obama is elected, as the great majority of citizens believes and wants, that prospect moves from theory to practice. No individual who remains so connected to that ostensible predictor of the future can be expected to take it lightly. Colin Powell surely recognizes that in this TV appearance lies the possibility for he, himself, to be the very October surprise about which so many speculate. It will be the electoral equivalent of MacArthur’s landing at Incheon. Truman kept MacArthur out of China. Will General Powell keep McCain out of the White House? I think not, and if I’m wrong, I will do the dance just like everyone else, as my opinion of Gen. Powell gains a little buoyancy and lightens my titanic keel for the journey, but with eyes peeled for icebergs.