Powell Endorses Obama

I predicted it. I don't know how big a deal it is, but I am glad.
The former Bush Secretary of State crosses party lines to endorse Obama, calling him "a transformational figure" who could "not only electrify our country but electrify our world."

Says McCain's Ayers attacks have "gone too far," criticizes McCain's "unsure" response to the economic crisis, and says Gov. Palin is unqualified to be vice president.

Makes the announcement on Sunday's "Meet the Press." Says he plans to vote-- but not campaign-- for Obama.

Says outside the NBC studio: "I think that Sen. Obama brings a fresh set of eyes, a fresh set of ideas to the table.... Sen. Obama has demonstrated the kind of calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach to problem-solving that I think we need in this country."
Update: Some folks are worried about what the endorsement means to certain people, and how they might react:
I fear for this country
By Ron Beasley

No, I'm not afraid Palin/McCain will win, I'm afraid of what will happen when they don't. It was not too surprising that Colin Powell endorsed Obama this morning but what he said was:

[video of MTP; same as above]

As you see is not so much an endorsement of Barack Obama but a condemnation of the current Republican party and the Rovian McCain campaign. Lee Attwater sparked the wildfire that is the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. Karl Rove fanned the flames and the Palin/McCain campaign has been throwing gasoline on the fire.

What passes as the Republican party these days is attempting to do is make the almost inevitable Democratic sweep illigitimate. This from Bilmon :
With the prospect of a bone-crushing election defeat staring them full in the face, the diehard rump of the conservative movement is already busy fashioning a narrative to explain the dissolution of its world -- the one that Ronald Reagan built and that George W. Bush (with an assist from Wall Street) has thoroughly trashed.

And the emerging story line appears to be, roughly, that ACORN did it.

Given the underlying proclivities of the modern conservative movement (Sarah Palin division) we should have understood that sooner or later it would come to something as absurd as this. Failed authoritarian movements needs scapegoats the way fecal coliform bacteria need a steady supply of raw sewage, and this one has a lot of failures that need explaining.

The remarkable thing, of course, is the right's effort to make the ACORN boogie man do double duty: responsible not only for the looming "theft" of American democracy (per John McCain) but also for bringing the US and global financial system to its knees (per any number of conservative quacks economists and cranks pundits).

You have to admit: That's a damned impressive revolutionary track record for an obscure group of community organizers operating on a shoestring budget. I mean, who needs the Red Army when you've got ACORN and the Community Reinvestment Act?
So what will this do to Karl Rove's lunatic fringe?
We don't need to hark back to the unfortunate history of a certain Central European country in the 1930s to understand how poisonous this kind of political myth making can become. Powerful elements of the Republican Party and the conservative "movement" aren't just preparing themselves to go into opposition, they're preparing themselves to dispute the legitimacy of an Obama presidency -- in ways that could, if taken to extreme, lead to another Oklahoma City.

It's hard to tell to what degree the GOP high command fully understands or is trying to feed these dynamics (indeed, it's becoming increasingly difficult to even tell who the GOP high command is these days). The last thing I want to do is get into an arms race with the wingnut right when it comes to paranoid conspiracy theories. (That's one race the left will always lose). Still, the recent statements of John McCain and his Bircher-influenced running mate aren't exactly reassuring:
My opponent's answer showed that economic recovery isn't even his top priority. His goal, as Senator Obama put it, is to "spread the wealth around."

You see, he believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism.
I've been following politics for going on 35 years now, and I don't think I've ever heard a Republican candidate publicly refer to his Democratic opponent as a "socialist" -- not even while hiding behind a cardboard cutout like "Joe the Plumber". This from a man who told the entire nation on Wednesday night that believes an obscure nonprofit group is "perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."

Likewise, I don't think there's ever been an American vice presidential candidate who explicitly referred to entire regions of the United States as "pro-American" -- with the clear implication that other regions are something less than "pro-American." Not since the Civil War, anyway.

We've crossed some more lines, in other words -- in a long series of lines that have made it increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ultraconservative wing of the Republican Party and an explicitly fascist political movement. And John McCain and his political handlers appear to have no moral compunctions whatsoever about whipping this movement into a frenzy and providing it with scapegoats for all that hatred, simply to try to shave a few points off Barack Obama's lead in the polls.

To call this "country first" only works if you assume your opponents (and scapegoats) are not really part of that same country. And we all know where that leads.
Now not all or even most of the Palin/McCain lunatics are going to resort to violence - but it only take a few of them as was demonstrated years ago in Oklahoma City. And we can expect that the Secret Service is going to be very busy trying to keep Barack Obama alive the next few years.
Update II: Powell after the interview on MTP...

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