Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama, although not unforeseen, is the big political story of the day. The Editors of National Review have a well reasoned response to the Powell endorsement that is well worth reading.
The problem with Powell’s endorsement of Obama is the same problem with the vast majority of endorsements of Obama: they’re all built on unsound logical ground. Even taking it for granted that the Bush years have been bad for the country (although not because Bush has been a radical conservative—he has not) and that some kind of “change” is needed, I’ve yet to see a coherent case for why Obama’s policies are the right direction.
Oh yes, I’ve seen plenty of ink spilled on why Obama’s personal qualities are so wonderful: everyone says that he’s intelligent, articulate, and vibrant. None of those mean a great deal in the long run. Many very intelligent men and women believe some very idiotic things: visit a college or university campus and ask members of the faculty about basic economic questions and you’ll get some profoundly unserious and utterly misinformed answers. Intelligence alone does not qualify one to be President: Nixon was a very astute thinker, but a lousy President.
Being able to use the bully pulpit of the American Presidency is critically important—look at what Bush’s failure to do so has done to his Presidency. But again, it is not nearly enough to make up for poor policies. Everything Obama stands for, from taxes to the Supreme Court to foreign policy is ill-conceived and often dangerous to the future of this great nation. Crafting lofty speeches will not make it less so. Being a good salesmen does not make the product any more safe.
Would Obama would be a “uniting” force—a “post-racial” President? There’s some good reason to believe that is so. But that is neither assured, nor is it enough. Obama has a history of being a political radical, a member of a virulently racial church, and surrounds himself with members of the extreme left. He has scant little in his record to suggest that he will govern as anything less than a doctrinaire across-the-board leftist—in a country that remains conservative. When Obama has to actually enact his policies, he will do so over the objections of a plurality of Americans who are increasingly seeing themselves as divorced from a left-wing elite. Obama will have to reach across party lines if he wants to avoid being another Clinton or George W. Bush. There is little in his record that suggests that he will do so.
In the end, Powell’s rationales are as superficial as the rest. Obama is a compelling figure, but the messianic nature of his campaign and his virtual coronation by a lickspittle media only makes it that much harder for Obama to govern with anything but a sense of institutional arrogance. Make no mistake about it, contrary to Gen. Powell, Obama will be another divisive and polarizing political figure. We do not need more of that kind of political division.
Sen. McCain, in contrast, has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment, including doing things that have put him against his own party. He stood his ground on campaign finance reform, on immigration reform, on torture, and especially on Iraq and each and every time his stand was based almost entirely on putting principle above politics. McCain can and will reach across the aisle—he’ll have no choice but to do so. Divided government would be healthy for the economy. A government totally controlled by the Democrats would lead to even greater political division than we have now. If an Obama-Pelosi-Reid government passes card check legislation, renews the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” to muzzle criticism of their rule, and enacts legislation repealing the ban on partial-birth abortions, will that heal the nation’s political wounds, or will it make things even worse? The answer should be obvious.
Our Republic is a house divided, and Obama will only expand those divisions. He will not be the figure of “hope” and “change” and the great transformational leader that Gen. Powell would hope him to be. Instead, he will do what he has always done: act as a radical leftist in concert with a radical Congress and arrogantly impose a radical agenda on a divided nation.
That is not the change we need, it is the change that will tear us apart.