Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama for re-election is welcome as a sign of the thinking of one piece of the conservative establishment, and also as a fairly clear sign that Powell thinks Obama is going to win. And Powell, in addition to saying nice things about Obama, hit Romney on two sore spots: his ignorance of foreign affairs and the variability of his positions. I.e., he managed, in his preternaturally calm voice. to raise both the Commander-in-Chief test and the character issue. Still, unless Powell goes out on the stump or works the phones, I wouldn’t have expected it to matter much.
That clearly isn’t the view from the other side of the line of scrimmage. The Red Team is frankly decompensating. Sununu’s casual race-card play (and semi-retraction) is nothing new, coming from Sununu, but it’s a little bit surprising Romney couldn’t, or didn’t want to, rein him in. He knows, or should know by now, that in a Presidential campaign no Sununus is good Sununus.
And of course John McCain being vicious is about as newsworthy as the Pope saying Mass. I’m sure he’ll never forgive Powell for what he regards as a betrayal in 2008, and his hatred for Obama seems to be boundless.
Between them Sununu and McCain managed to ensure that even relatively low-information voters learned about Powell’s endorsement, which could otherise have slipped comfortably under the radar. And the President was happy to keep the story alive another day.
But the weirdest aspect of the story is the issue McCain chose to attack Powell on: the invasion of Iraq. Powell properly gave Obama credit for getting us out of Iraq. McCain – yes, the McCain who in 2008 wanted to keep our troops in Iraq forever – decided to spice up his second day of atttacks on Powell’s character by saying:
Colin Powell, interestingly enough, said that Obama got us out of Iraq. But it was Colin Powell, with his testimony before the U.N. Security Council, that got us into Iraq.
Now, how many different ways is that weird?
1. First, it’s obviously untrue. Powell was the PR front for the Iraq War, not the decider. To what extent he had sniffed the b.s. by serving that big, fat b.s.-burger to the Security Council is an open question, but he surely wasn’t the author either of the idea of an invasion or the specific arguments he made to get the Security Council to support it. (And Powell is still mad at the neo-cons who handed him the b.s. and told him it was ground round.)
2. Second, Bush was the President. In the end, Bush got us into Iraq, even if Cheney was the puppet-master.
3. Third, I thought McCain thought the war in Iraq was a Good Thing: “necessary and just.” Now, dear reader, you don’t think that, and I don’t think that, but in official wingnut mythology we were the problem; by not supporting the war, we created a political situation that led to the Stab in the Back that alone prevented the creation of a stable, democratic Iraq allied with the U.S. and Israel. So of course you and I think Powell badly blotted his copy-book that day in front of the Security Council, but where does John McCain get off saying so?
Perhaps the sheer idiocy of the Iraq adventure has now penetrated even John McCain’s thick skull. But this is an odd way of saying so, isn’t it?
The least hypothesis that covers these facts would seem to me to be that (1) they’re losing this election, after thinking for a week they were winning it; (2) they know they’re losing it, whatever it says in the NRO or even the WaPo; and (3) they’re sore losers.