Is Colin Powell a Republican?
Why did Colin Powell recently trash the Tea Party? Isn't he a Republican who wants to see his party do well in the upcoming election? Or is he someone else? His comments about compromise regarding the selection of the Republican nominee are revealing about his own identity as a Republican. And does his love of compromise weaken that identity? This is important because Colin Powell still has cache as a former secretary of State, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and national security adviser. His words, therefore, have clout.
Here is what Colin Powell said on ABC's This Week With Christiane Amanpour on November 27:
Compromise is how this country was founded, and unless two people in disagreement with each other don't find a way to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don't get a consensus that allows you to move forward. But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win.
That statement about compromise sounds eminently convenient. However, convenient isn't always right. How do you compromise on fiscal solvency? A strong defense? Constitutional stipulations? Point is, you can't. What if the allies in World War II did not demand unconditional surrender? What if they compromised that first principle of engaging in war with Japan and Germany? Well, we might be speaking German and Japanese in America now if that were the attitude from 1941 to 1945.
Compromise is a useful tool for fashioning how things get done, but when you are talking about something as fundamental as the fiscal health of our nation, a necessity for survival, then there can be no compromise. You have to reduce the debt and the deficit by whatever means are available and practical and sensible. Reductions in spending are absolutely necessary to drive down the deficit and the debt. The Tea Party movement was adamant about that, and rightfully so. Did they compromise? No, because they were right, something that Colin Powell doesn't quite understand when he criticizes the movement. You can argue about what spending needs to be sacrificed, but you can't argue about the fact that spending must be decreased significantly to attain fiscal sustainability. That's an economic fact that got lost when Powell raised the holy grail of compromise to Christiane Amanpour.
In addition, Powell was disingenuous in the interview by not calling out Obama and the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) minions for their recalcitrance about reducing spending in Obama's case and destroying capitalism in the case of the OWS crowd. Not once were they mentioned in the interview. Don't you think that their postures are hardheaded, creating political divisiveness? And as far as OWS is concerned, why didn't Powell condemn the violence? Something's happened to Colin Powell, and it has been happening for a number of years.
Colin Powell's move to the left has been, as some suggest, because of his embarrassment over his 2003 U.N. lecture to the world on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when he was secretary of State. This was evident in an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC News in 2005 when he said, "I'm the one who presented it to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It is painful now."
Those weapons proved elusive, not necessarily nonexistent. Yet the world's perception (promoted by the media) was that there were none and that President Bush and Powell lied. The fact that most European secret service organizations, such as MI5 in Britain, and some clandestine outfits in the Middle East, such as in Jordan, had sworn that those weapons existed, in addition to the CIA's insistence (including photographs) that they did, got lost in the rush to condemn Bush and Powell as war-mongers when no weapons were found.
Powell's reputation never really recovered from that misperception and lack of honesty by the world's media. Did he decide to take it out on Republicans? How else can you explain his outlandish and tellingly transparent race-card endorsement of Barack Obama at the last minute of the 2008 presidential campaign? In short, he compromised whatever Republican principles he had to endorse the neophyte Democrat candidate, who had the least qualifications for the presidency, over the way-more-qualified Republican candidate. Race or payback didn't enter into it, according to Powell. Wanna bet?
Powell's castigation of the Tea Party for not compromising is revealing regarding his loyalty to Republican principles. The Tea Party established its integrity starting in 2009 by calling for limited government, reductions in government spending, a strong military, and respect for constitutional principles. These are the cornerstones of its character as a movement. To compromise them would be to destroy its identity.
Colin Powell loves to compromise and to say that Republicans should move to the center. He said as much in May 2009 in an interview that prompted Dick Cheney to exclaim shortly afterward on CBS's Face the Nation: "I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican." Cheney warned that the party should not move "dramatically to the left" in order to redefine its base. "We are what we are. We're Republicans, and we have certain things we believe in."
So, today, Powell sees members of the Tea Party as reactionary and right-wing zealots who will never compromise their principles for the good of the Republican Party and the country. Why should they? Is consensus the right path when you are talking about basic principles that should never be corroded by compromise? Of course not. The good of the country depends on those basic principles not being negotiated away.
Regarding presidential candidates, a topic Powell was pointing to in the November 27 interview, why should the Tea Party discard what they firmly believe in to produce a candidate who does not represent the values and principles that are needed for the continued success of America? That is a Faustian bargain that may go over nicely in the salons Powell visits in Washington, but it is too high a price for America and Americans. We do not need watered-down candidates who lack conviction and sense about what's right and what's wrong for our country. We already have that.
For someone who changed identities over the course of his career (moderate Republican to someone who would endorse a far-left Democrat for president), Powell has paid the price of compromise -- the loss of his reputation as a Republican. There are times when compromise erodes the definition of who you are. For the good of the country, the Tea Party refuses to make that grand bargain with the devil. Sadly, Colin Powell made that bargain in 2008 when he endorsed Barack Obama.