As Election Day draws near, the shifts and alterations of the various players has made this campaign more interesting than it might have been otherwise.
For Americans, the latest shout-outs are drawing attention to the unstable nature of our political currents.
The most surprising development is Colin Powell’s public endorsement of Barry Obama. I don’t need to link this story; it’s all over the American news outlets.
Remember, though, that this is the guy Daily Kos pulled through the mud, headlining his appointment as Secretary of State under Bush as “Uncle Tom Powell Stumps for Massah Bush”. No, I don’t visit Daily Kos so I haven’t read their latest take, but somehow I think Powell’s endorsement of Obama, and Obama’s announcement to have Powell as his advisor, will generate ecstatic responses in Kosland. All his former treacheries (he was a Republican, after all and in Kosland, Republican=Treachery) will be forgiven and forgotten. Sudden virtues, formerly hidden by Powell’s Republicanism, will be created and polished to a fine sheen.
Powell has been a problematic character ever since the first Gulf War.
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His decision not to run for President back in the 2000 race was a wise one, for Powell is not cut out for it. In fact, he wasn’t really cut out for his position as a General in the Army, or as our Secretary of State. In the former, he failed to lead vigorously and we ended up backing down from Saddam, only to cause the deaths of many Iraqis who believed us the first time. Those deaths are Powell’s burden.
Our intervention after September 11th, when Powell went to the UN to state the case for entry into Iraq, was a weak one also. Even then, as Claudia Rossett pointed out, he knew about the overwhelming corruption of the oil deals being made by Saddam with China and France. He could have used that leverage in making his case for war, but by then Powell was under the spell of the State Department and so he kept quiet.
Bush’s replacement of him after the first term could not have endeared Powell to the Republicans. In fact, it’s clear that he is quite estranged not only from the Republican Party, but from conservative policy itself (yes, I realize that the two are not coterminous. The Republicans have drifted to Big Government solutions much too often, but that discussion is for another time).
General Powell’s endorsement of Obama is embarrassing. His reasons for turning tail and joining the Democrat camp are as airy-fairy thin as Obama’s own policies, so in that sense they make a good fit. Obama has announced that there will be a place for Powell in his administration, thus the latter’s motivation stands in clear relief against the background of his conversion.
However, Powell is not the only October surprise.
There is the Christopher Buckley case. For our European readers, Mr. Buckley is mainly famous for being the son of William F. Buckley, the founder of the monthly conservative magazine, National Review. Mr. Buckley claims that the Republican Party is not his father’s party any more and thus he must leave…to actively support a socialist instead? Go figure.
Of course, the fact that control of his father’s magazine was not part of his inheritance might have some bearing on his resignation. Buckley is a good example of the reversion to the mean. He is neither as intelligent nor as charming as his father was. William F. Buckley was one of a kind; his shoes would have been impossible to fill.
Perhaps William Buckley’s recent death, with all the grief that must entail, was part of the son’s reason for leaving the loyal ranks his father helped create. Perhaps it was his realization that his temporary job at National Review was about to end as Mark Steyn returned to the magazine’s back page. Buckley’s residence there was only ever meant to be temporary, so maybe he felt the need to leave with a flourish instead of waiting to be asked to vacate the page.
Buckley claims he was “fired” but the editors at National Review have his chirpy, let’s-be-friends resignation email to counter this claim. It will be interesting to see how he manages to ally himself with a socialist Democrat and still retain any fidelity to his family’s heritage. It is true his father didn’t like George Bush’s policies in Iraq, but that never would have converted William Buckley into a supporter of the kind of politician that he founded his magazine to fight.
Barry Obama represents everything that William Buckley disdained. For whatever reason, his son has gone over to the dark side. I think it is a decision he will live to regret deeply.
The third public endorsement of Obama that is of interest is the one by Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. Though not of the “sudden conversion” variety, this public support smells to high heaven. Bob Parks, a black conservative running for state office in Massachusetts, uses the news article in The Wall Street Journal to form his own judgments about Schmidt’s move. Like Powell and Buckley, Schmidt has his reasons:
Mr. Schmidt said his planned endorsement of the Illinois senator is a “natural evolution” from his role as an informal adviser to the Obama campaign.
The Google chief plans to join executives from other technology companies to announce their support for Sen. Obama.
Congress is considering measures that could have an adverse impact on Google’s business, including laws that could limit companies’ ability to deliver personally targeted online advertisements and rules that would allow telecommunications companies to charge different prices for different levels of Internet service.
Lawmakers’ and regulators’ scrutiny of Google, in particular, is intensifying. The company’s proposed ad-sharing agreement with Yahoo Inc. triggered a Justice Department probe into whether the deal would give Google too much control over the market and lead to higher prices for online advertisers.
“My sense is, the Justice Department makes judgments on these issues independent of politics,” Mr. Schmidt said. “It would be unfair to Justice to imply [that supporting Sen. Obama] would make a difference.”
Yes, he really said that with a straight face: “It would be unfair to Justice to imply [that supporting Sen. Obama] would make a difference.” It makes you wonder what else he expects us to swallow regarding Google. This is the company that helped China set up its anti-free speech network, the same company that will no doubt work with the EU to do the same when they begin to focus seriously on closing down anti-statist blogs. Think of Google as an evolved Soviet system and you begin to get an idea of its business plan and its eventual reach into your life.
Thus endeth the October surprise(s). No doubt there will be more.
Oh, wait. We hear another voice from the crowd. This has become a hat trick with a spare: it is rumored that Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve Commission, is endorsing Obama. If so, it is because he believes Obama will win, and Bernanke, like all the others elbowing their way into position, wants to hang onto his job.
It is enlightening to discover the price of a man’s soul.