Friday, October 17, 2008

Open Letter to Colin Powell


I can't decide whether it's more appropriate to address you as 'Secretary Powell' or as 'General Powell'. I am respectful of both ranks which you have achieved and appreciative of your service rendered to our once-great country. But I think I may prefer to address you as 'General' for reasons which may become clear below. Whatever...

Please, General, don't endorse Senator Barack Obama's candidacy for president.

It's long been rumored that you have been considering making an endorsement for some time, especially after the final presidential debate. Lawrence O'Donnell says you're ready to endorse. But going back, even before the Democratic National Convention, Bill Kristol predicted your endorsement. So, I've been sitting here on my sofa, waiting for your shoe sword of Damocles to drop on Barack Obama's candidacy.

This is the exact same sofa on which I was sitting when, on February 5th, 2003 I saw and heard you as Secretary of State tell the U.N. Security Council,
What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior .....

Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction .....

My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence .....

The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world .....
Since then, I have re-upholstered the sofa. But the confidence I placed in your word has not being repaired. As a matter of fact, I recall being on the phone that very moment you were testifying to the world and I asked the person on the other end of the line,

What is the Secretary of State going to say,
after his invasion,
if no weapons of mass destruction turn up?

It turns out that you didn't have much to say. You did say that you were sorry you had been given the wrong intelligence. You did say that, against your better judgment and advice, we didn't go in with a stronger force. You did regret a lack of planning for an extended occupation.

But you said nothing about the political, moral and legal decrepitude about invading a country that never attacked or threatened to attack us. Nothing close to what Illinois Senator Barack Obama had said four months earlier in his 2 October 2002 Chicago’s Federal Plaza speech:
I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

..... What I am opposed to is the attempt by potential hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty state, a drop in the medium income—to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone thorough the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I am opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war, a war based not on reason, but on passion, not on principle, but on politics.

..... I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undermined cost, with undetermined consequence of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequence. I know that an invasion of Iraq without clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda.
Because of your loyalty to Team Busheney, your legacy has been squandered. Today, you are no longer a game changer. You were, once or twice or more. But your opportunity has passed.

You could have changed the game. Four timely words would have saved the day for you:
I'm sorry. I resign.
A nation should/could/would have celebrated you with heartfelt gratitude. Not to mention your fans in friendly nations throughout the world.

Your service as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War had been distinguished and spectacular. You were so beloved by all Americans that you could have easily been elected President from either party if you could somehow be air-dropped onto a general election ballot without having to go through the grinding march of the primaries. (Bet your wife would had permitted that.) But instead you fell in line with the worst group of worthless liars ever to have captured the White House, and your loyalty to them has irreparably tarnished your reputation. That is why I cannot bear to address you as Secretary of State.

But then again, just last Friday, your wheels went off on another loyalty side-track, crossing on a bridge to nowhere. You went to court to praise Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' sense of honor at his trial on corruption charges, calling his reputation for honesty and integrity "sterling". That must been because of his supporting role as a chairman of the Senate committee on military appropriations in the quarter-century you've known each other:
…. He fights for his state. He fights for his people ….. But at the same time, he has the best interest of the country at heart - always ….. There was never any suggestion that he would do anything that was improper … He was someone whose word you could rely on ….. as a guy who would tell me when I was off base ….. he would tell me when I had no clothes on-figuratively, that is-and would tell me when I was right and go for it. ….. As we say in the infantry, He's a guy who, as we said in the infantry, we would take on a long patrol.
Very colorful.Well, General, my conclusion is that loyalty is your stronger suit, clearly trumping your judgment of character. I don't think Senator Obama is in as much of a need for your endorsement as you are in need of being seen and found among his supporters.

Why are you not content to fade away like old generals should? You could continue indefinitely what you do now, commanding speaking fees of $100,000 per appearance plus first-class expenses, as you and your wife fly back and forth, cross country in that Lear 60 jet.

Why should you drag back your corruption from your Busheney years and place it around Barack Obama's neck as he concludes his campaign for change and integrity?

Integrity has not been part of your game for some time.

31 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

My feelings exactly.
Glad you included Barack's 2002 speech; I had never read or heard it in it's entirety. Thank you.

10/18/2008 01:03:00 AM  
Blogger MacDaddy said...

Great post. Like you, I'm aware of, and respectful of, his service to our country. But he allowed himself to be used like a cheap ho on a side street by people like Bush and Wolfowicz and then refused to apologize to America and military families or speak against the Bush and Rumsfeld invasion and occupation. I once admired him, but that's all gone now.

10/18/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Rena said...

Thanks for reading and commenting on my post on the same subject. I forgot about the recent testimony on behalf of Ted Stevens (still too enraged about the UN presentation from the one Bush crony who could have stopped this clusterfuck) -- clearly another example of Powell's bad judgement.

Great blog, I'll be bookmarking and reading regularly

10/18/2008 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Anvendelig said...

Jon Soltz explains Why A Powell Endorsement Would Matter. Powell,

is the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs -- a man who loves America and loves America's military. For all the smears being hurled about "palling around with terrorists" and "white flag of retreat," nothing can counter that like a Republican former 4-star coming out and saying "This guy loves America as much as me."

10/18/2008 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Kit, you're perceptive if you noted how clairvoyant Obama was four months B-4 the invasion!

All: I can enthusiastically get behind Powell's endorsement if he prefaces it with words like,

I'm sorry. I was wrong. Barack was right. I should have resigned.

If he doesn't? Then, as we all used to sing, ...standing by the waters, I shall not be moved...

10/18/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

V-Man, don't you think your standards for an apology are a little high?

10/18/2008 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

Maybe not exactly the gold standard for Iraq apologies was John Derbyshire's apology, but it was in the National Review. That's something. It's attainable.

10/18/2008 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

This may all be moot. Maybe the General is just out to play us all. Colin Powell may want to retain his Mercurial image and not endorse. By coming so tantalizingly close to an endorsement and yet withholding it, he can disappoint and lower the bar of expectancy raised in the MSM. Hasn't he always wanted to eat his toast buttered on both sides? That way he can continue to collect his $100,000 honorariums for speaking appearances. He calls it 'bipartisanship statesmanship'. I call it by another name.

10/18/2008 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Don Frederick, Will Colin Powell Endorse Obama?

Anything less than a Powell embrace of Obama would be a letdown for the Democrats.

10/18/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger KELSO'S NUTS said...

VIGILANTE: You know how I feel and I agree with you, Barack Obama's bravery in the face of Powell's cowardice is exactly why he wants to get some reflected glory, rehabilitate his own image on Obama's back, and if possible fuck up Obama's presidency.

I'll write it here there and everywhere. Colin Powell is a sociopath. He's also a coward, sadist and liar.

I'm panameno all the way on this one. To make a bad musical pun: 9/11 IS A JOKE (compared to Operation Just Cause). It really is and I've got no patience for Americans who use 9/11 as a sword and a shield for everything.

Colin Powell gave us 3 9/11s. George Bush Sr who ordered the invasion had to tell him to back off and cool it. You have no idea what was going on here. It wasn't just the sport-killing of 10,000 civilians and wholesale destruction of property leaving 100,000 homeless.

The media showed you pictures of the US military trying to piss off Noriega when he was seeking sanctuary in a church by blasting Southern rock to disrupt mass. That was portrayed as a good thing and funny in the US press.

That was not the whole story of the psyops. Despite having Noriega trapped, Powell had the troops everywhere in the city screaming rebel yells, shooting guns the air, scaring old people, raping young women, writing swastikas and anti-Muslim blasphemies on the houses in the Jewish/Arab area.

And because Noriega was seeking Catholic sanctuary, that was a license to do any destruction they wanted to any Catholic church in the city. You can probably imagine what they did. I really don't want to go into it. Colin Powell is a Catholic. How foul is that?

I find it sad as all getout that there are African-American parents who hold that guy up as a role model to their kids. I really do.

For all the bullshit in the press, Jeremiah Wright actually seems like an excellent role model because he's so accomplished in so many different areas of endeavor. Including the military. He's a Marine but a man of peace. But that's just my point of view.

Barack Obama is also a man of peace (I hope). Given his druthers, I'm sure he'd love to end the Iraq War ASAP and not have to do this absurd South Asia escalation. But that's the American political culture. He's jammed up having to do a lot of stuff he doesn't agree with I'm sure.

The other thing I can't stand about Powell is how greedy he is. Americans go on and on about the Obama family's house and Michelle Obama's salary and all that. They worked for what they have!

Powell's got $30 million from god knows where. Even at $100K/per no one can make that many corporate team-building speeches.

Powell's never going to admit he was wrong to Barack Obama in public. Obama's everything that Powell isn't. For starters, one is a very kind man and the other is a sadist.

I have seen what Colin Powell's service to his country was. And I have no respect for it whatsoever. The US Armed Forces is a great institution in a lot of ways and it's sad that on the main stage we find two disgraces in Colin Powell and John McCain.

I hope Colin Powell has the good sense to stay out of Panama. Because if he ever came back without McCain and Lindsay Graham's Blackhawk helicopters and 10,000 man escort, they'd be mailing him back parcel-post in 162boxes. And then irony or ironies, Barack Obama would be forced to nuke us into the stone age!

10/18/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Well said, Kelso. With all of that, you're sending me down to the beach with my dog and a smile on me face!

10/18/2008 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger Fredrick Schwartz said...

powell as a staggeringly poor judge of human character exposes himself as a man with little or no character. A great officer in the eyes of the unwashed masses powell has done nothing short to the peoples of Panama than what Heydrich planned to do and did to the Jews after Wannsee. The gloss is off Powell and if were endorsed by this man I would treat it as Obama did when he was endorsed by Louis Farrakhan who stands head and shoulders above Powell in personal integrity and rote judgment.

10/18/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger GetaLife-ReadUrNews said...

It's All Over. Powell Endorses Obama:

"I think he is a transformational figure coming into the world stage and for that reason I'll be voting for Barack Obama"

Obama has won.

10/19/2008 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

This is not politically correct. Don't forget Michelle O's Rule. I almost took your statement down, not to mention banning you, Get-Lifer.

10/19/2008 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Your attitude and acceptance thereof is McCant's only chance for a comeback.

10/19/2008 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I agree with getalife. I also agree with others posting here that I found Powell's behavior at the UN reprehensible and pandering. Regardless, he made an effort today to convince us that he in fact believed in what he did and why. I will, based on his prior service to our country, give him the benefit of the doubt. I think there is enough hatred from the Republicans. I don't want to join their ranks by adding to it.

Finally, there is far too much being made of this endorsement. General Powell is still considered by most Americans to be a great man of our times, despite his brief stint as Dubya's SoS. As a result his endorsement will do a lot more to help Obama than it will to hurt him. The polls of the next few days will no doubt support this most popular view.

10/19/2008 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Cold War Vet said...

I think I'd like to ask Cindy Sheehan what she thinks about Mr. Powells endorsement and just go with that.

10/19/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

I'm throwing my support behind MadMike's words. Could, and should have, Powell done things differently? Hell yes, but I must add that the ship of state we are all on is sinking fast and to stop it we all are going to swallow our pride and ideology and work with people we have issues with and actually dislike. It's one of the reasons I have stood with Obama.
Another reason we can't reject Powell is that a far larger segment of the republican party than we might want to believe is flirting with proto-fascism. The Congresswoman from Minnesota call for McCarthy-like investigations on Democrats and Old Sara's words are prime examples along some of the things I heard Pat Buchanan say tonight on MSNBC.
In short there is no need to alienate any moderate republicans, although they are an endangered species.

10/19/2008 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Coleen Rowley said...

I just saw Oliver Stone's "W" movie and it's a sympathetic portrayal of everyone in the Bush Administration but an especially sympathetic one of Colin Powell. The movie will probably lead many viewers to think they were more well-intentioned than was actually the case.

I also sat through one of those $100,000 speeches that Powell gave at the University of Minnesota in 2006. Although he did a good job of throwing in some of his wife's comments to make it sound self-deprecating, it kind of had that same sick ring as Bush's facetious act of looking for WMD to entertain the press.

10/19/2008 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

Some conservatives see race in Powell's Obama endorsement. Why could not the General have waited until the last week before the election? This may turn out to be a kiss of death like the Gore endorsement of Dean in 2004. Did Powell think this is all about himself?

10/20/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

On this point, Boris, see my comment on MMA!

10/20/2008 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Mad Mike, I think we should both look into the different impacts of the endorsement inside the USA and outside the USA. The BBC made a comment this morning that Powell's statement was huge for the world-wide audience. Interesting....

10/20/2008 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I'll do some research on that Vigil. I have a lot of family in Europe. I will ask their opinion. This election is getting huge attention over there. Look for some posts tomorrow.

10/20/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mariamariacuchita said...

Vigilante, one of the things I admire in a writer is when they make me pause, reflect and think more deeply about the issues.

Thanks, you just took me to that place. Powell is a General, but he is also a politician, albeit a smooth talking one. I'll be back to read more, for sure.

10/20/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

Kelso, your comment about Powell gave me the chills. Thanks for the info. I think Powell's endorsement might help the campaign because he still garners respect with many conservatives. Just guessing.

For all the bullshit in the press, Jeremiah Wright actually seems like an excellent role model because he's so accomplished in so many different areas of endeavor. Including the military. He's a Marine but a man of peace. But that's just my point of view.

I think the Wright "scandal" was another political disgrace. He's a brilliant, honest individual. I like that in a person. Now, Killa's preacher, he's really scary. We hear little about the fanaticism of her church. That's a scary place of... worship?

Faux Noise is getting desperate. New scandal: Wright's affair. Those rethugs are reallly reaching. There are alternative views, but you have to look hard.

And, unfortunately, it's not over John McCain's campaign manager says he is reconsidering using Barack Obama's relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue during the election's closing weeks.

Oh, but we were discussing Powell, weren't we? Yeah, I don't like him, either. And where did he get that $30 million? I don't know. Maybe Halliburton stock?

10/20/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

Yes! Madmike: his endorsement will do a lot more to help Obama than it will to hurt him.

10/20/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf said...

Colin Powell and Don Rumsfeld were both fired by Bush. Why is Powell less of a war criminal than Rumsfeld?

10/21/2008 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

Ironically, McCain has endorsed Powell in the past, many times.

10/21/2008 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Unfinished business with Mad Mike, who says Powell:

... made an effort today to convince us that he in fact believed in what he did and why. I will, based on his prior service to our country, give him the benefit of the doubt. I think there is enough hatred from the Republicans. I don't want to join their ranks by adding to it.

Regardless of party, once someone lies to me, I'm quits with him. LBJ lied. Nixon Lied. Reagan Lied. Clinton lied. (No one died. But he lied to stay in office.) Bush lied. Cheney lied. Rice lied. Rumsfeld lied. And Powell fibbed?

Come on. If Powell would have come clean and resigned at this time four years ago (2004) he could have made his comrade-in-arms, Kerry, President. Think how many lives and dollars that would have saved?

10/21/2008 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

Soros and Muhammed are dead on. People forget McCain's support of Powell: and ACORN.

Oh, hell, Vig, I know LBJ lied. But I can't forget he signed more civil rights legislation than any president in history. Then, I remember Viet Nam. LBJ was a cypher who had deep reservations about Nam, but escalated the war significantly after the TET Offensive. Why would he do that?

Those were horrible times, too. I admire LBJ for resigning, but I can't forgive him for opening the door for Nixon.

10/28/2008 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I can't let you put more on LBJ than he deserves, Stella. Johnson didn't open the door for Nixon. RFK's assassin did that. And yes, I did vote Peace and Freedom that year, instead of supporting HHH for pres.

10/28/2008 10:13:00 PM  

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