I heard about this back in August. There was breathless speculation that Powell was going to endorse Obama. It didn’t happen, and it made the Obama campaign sound like it was crying wolf to grab headlines. Earlier this week I heard the same thing and I brushed it off. “He’s not going to do it,” I thought. How could he endorse a candidate with such irresponsible foreign policy views? Well here it is. You have to see it to believe it.
Basically what Powell says here is he likes that Obama is intellectually curious, and gathers information and views from many sources. And he doesn’t like the direction the Republican Party is going in, with certain high level people in the party wondering whether Obama is really a Muslim, and whether he really has ties to terrorists that could do America harm. Perhaps he doesn’t like that McCain hasn’t disciplined those people in the party or thrown them out, since being the nominee of the party, he is the leader of it. He also said in so many words that he didn’t like McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for VP, because in his mind she’s not ready to be president. So he thinks Obama is ready? Is he serious?
It’s interesting that on Friday Christopher Hitchens, a long-time supporter of Bush and his policies in the “War on Terror”, also endorsed Obama on the O’Reilly Factor for the same reasons. Hitchens conceded that Obama is inexperienced and has some wrong ideas, but “he’s teachable”. I guess that’s an attractive notion to some, but I think if Obama does win he’s going to be taught more (brutally) by actual events than by experts, and we’re all going to be his guinea pigs while he learns. Great. I can’t wait.
The objections Powell had about McCain were that McCain seemed unsure about how to handle the economic crisis, that his foreign policy approach has gotten narrower, and that his campaign has focused too much on issues that are of little concern to the American people.
Have these men forgotten that it was McCain who came up with the winning strategy of the surge in Iraq, a policy that Obama opposed? Obama favored beginning the pullout of forces in 2007, a strategy that would have surely led to chaos in Iraq and the surrounding region. Has Powell forgotten that it was McCain who backed legislation in 2006 that would have regulated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which would have had a chance of nipping this financial crisis in the bud before it blew up on us this fall? Where was Obama on that one? He was in the Cloak Room in the Senate and couldn’t be bothered to come out and vote for it.
I’m sure McCain doesn’t believe that Obama has ties to terrorists that will do us harm, nor that he is a Muslim. I’m curious to know why Powell somehow thinks that doesn’t matter. The question from McCain’s perspective was never about whether Obama is the “Manchurian candidate”, but that Obama’s associations have never been vetted by the MSM (as they should have been), and that his associations say something about him and his judgement. That’s all.
Hearing that Obama is intellectually curious is a plus in my book. Both Hitchens and Powell said this. I’m intellectually curious myself, but I know that it’s not the end-all, be-all of judgement.
My grandmother was a nurse before she got married. She went through a nursing school that was more like a vocational school. There was book learning, but there was a lot of hands-on work. Students worked with real patients every day. By the time she graduated she knew how to work with doctors and patients, and she had probably seen it all as far as what kinds of problems patients could have. Her husband was a radiologist. Both of them told me growing up that book learning is good, but hands-on experience is invaluable. If you have a serious illness or operation, you do NOT want a doctor working on you who is just out of medical school. Get one who has been dealing with patients’ illnesses and physiology for many years. Why? The doctor just out of medical school is trained in the basics. Sure they’re competent, but they have been trained for the routine stuff, and they don’t know what they don’t know. Also what they don’t know, just from a lack of experience, is that biology can and does throw them curveballs. They’ll think one thing is going on when in fact it’s something else, and they’ll treat you (very convincingly I might add) for the wrong problem. People die in hospitals quite often, and not of natural causes. Sometimes it’s because of negligence (in which case they have a lawsuit on their hands), but often it’s because the doctor(s) did their due dilligence, but even that wasn’t good enough.
I have to admit I haven’t listened to a lot of what McCain has said about what he’d do on policy. One policy position I heard from one of his advisors that really impressed me is that he’s considering bringing in more people from different professions to serve as teachers in the public schools, rather than credentialled teachers who have gone through the education schools. This is a non-obvious solution to an obvious problem. Our schools of education (the university programs that train teachers), by and large, suck. This has been the case for decades. My mother who got her degree in education has said as much for years. This was the case when she went to school, though fortunately she found a good graduate private post-graduate program. It seems as though everyone but the people ensconsced in the education schools knows this. Many of these schools are a joke.
Anyway, that’s one policy position I listened to. The real reason I came around to McCain is I was impressed that he came up with the surge policy in Iraq, which is working well, when everyone else, including many Republicans (except Bush), wanted to throw in the towel and concede defeat. That shows judgement and leadership that Obama simply doesn’t have, and I’m surprised that Powell, who as a military man has been dedicated to success in military conflict (in my opinion), would back someone who doesn’t have the perception to understand what it takes to succeed in that theater, and who has a powerful constituency he has to please that believes war is never justified.
Colin Powell, I hate to say this, because I have long believed that you are a good judge of character, but I think you’ve fallen for a very well done PR campaign that has in my opinion caused you to go more with your feelings than with your head and sense of judgement. I am so very disappointed in you.