Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Real Maverick.

While the endorsements of right-leaning newspapers, columnists and radio talk show hosts continue to pour in for Obama this week, there is no Republican endorsement that carries as much weight as that of Colin Powell's. While certainly a moderate Republican, Powell's conservative credentials are strong on most issues and, as evidenced by his carrying water for George W. Bush as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005, Powell is a loyal and honorable soldier who speaks his mind only when it serves the national interest---not his own. He is, in my estimation, the kind of Republican that the not-so-Grand and very-Old Party needs to help rediscover its ideological core and its fundamental integrity.

In many ways, Powell reminds me of the way I used to feel about John McCain. Aside from both being genuine patriots who have spent their lives in service to their country, McCain and Powell subscribe to fundamentally conservative beliefs, but do so without the need to accept each and every party line. Powell understands that being pro-choice does not make one a liberal any more than being pro-life makes you a conservative. Or he at least understands that it shouldn't. He knows that "reasonable" gun control laws are exactly that...reasonable. And unlike so many of his party counterparts, Powell knows that sunlight is the best disinfectant for what ails his party. Self-awareness is an invaluable quality for a leader to possess, and it's a quality which should be readily embraced by both parties. You shouldn't be considered a "maverick" for critiquing your own party. It should be mandatory...for both Democrats and Republicans alike.

Watch the following two clips of Powell from today, both mesmerizing for their thoughtfulness, earnestness, and eloquence. The first is his endorsement of Obama on Meet The Press, and the second is a more candid interview just outside the studio following his appearance.

I freely admit that Powell's refusal to run for President has no doubt helped to keep the shine on his star. We've seen what the rigors of an election have done to McCain, and perhaps Powell, too, would have sold off his integrity and hard earned reputation for a chance at the White House. Maybe I'm being naive, but I just don't think that would have happened. We've seen Obama, whether up or down in the polls, handle himself and his campaign with respect and class, albeit imperfectly at times. And seeing how Powell has comported himself these many years, both in good times and bad, I think there's every reason to assume his campaign would have matched or exceeded the constructive qualities of Obama's.

It's painfully obvious that the GOP needs men and women like Powell to take a greater role in redefining their party. The irony, of course, is that Powell's endorsement of Obama today makes that all the more unlikely.


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