Want to make a Republican mad? Tell them there’s a strong strain of racial intolerance in their party.
Want to make a Republican even madder. Let the person telling them be another Republican and one with unimpeachable credentials. Someone like Colin Powell.
While the pundits in Washington gripe about the lack of racial diversity in Obama’s new Cabinet (so far) they have forgotten the Republicans have a far greater problem with racial diversity. They don’t want any according to Powell.
“There’s also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party,” Powell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities.”
Without naming them, Powell went after the swinish John Sununu, the Mitt Romney supporter for describing President Obama as “lazy” and America’s favorite ditz, Sarah Palin for referring to the president’s explanations about the embassy attack in Libya as “shuck and jive.’” It probably hadn’t slipped Powell’s mind how Sununu had dismissed his second endorsement of Obama as being racially based and didn’t mince words about the casual way the Republicans have infused race-baiting of the president in their criticisms of the president.
There is also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the President is “shuckin’ and jivin’,” that’s a racial-era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well say that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow. He was tired. He didn’t do well. He said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with that. The birther, the whole birther movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?
The pushback to Powell was swift and predictably, attacked the former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff personally instead of addressing the issue.
“Powell’s behavior is petulant. Attacking Republicans makes him a liberal media darling and provides more fuel to Bush-haters. Yet Powell is no saint. He is just a disgruntled ex-employee who dislikes the boss who fired him,” growled Eric Golub in the Washington Times.
“I think the case that he makes is weak, and it is an odd thing for a man who declares himself to be a Republican—and has done so well under Republican presidents—to say,” snorted Brit Hume to Bill O’Reilly who dismissed Powell saying “used to be a Republican and I don’t think he is any longer.”
The yapping of the attack dogs of the conservative media won’t deter Powell from telling hard truths to the more reasonable members of the Republican Party. The GOP has been on the sick end of two straight losing national elections and as it moves further to the extreme Right, it has left Blacks, Asians and most importantly, Latinos, behind for the Democrats. Powell has been consistent in explaining why this has happened, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears to his fellow Republicans.
“I think the Republican Party is having an identity problem,” Powell said, “If it’s just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty.” The former Bush Cabinet member said he voted for a GOP presidential candidate seven times in a row before voting for President Obama twice. “I’m a moderate, but I’m still a Republican.” The general is absolutely right about the dire state of the Republican Party but saying that out loud will get you denounced as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by the factions who specialize in that kind of thing.
They would be better served to shut up and listen to one of the few Republicans left with widespread crossover appeal. The moderation of Powell’s voice may irritate the likes of O’Reilly, Hume and Golub but what irritates them more is Powell’s criticisms have the sting of harsh truth to them and he remains one of the most admired men in this country.
When Powell speaks, it carries much weight and Americans respond to his words. That’s what his critics fear the most. They might have to actually start working on fixing what’s wrong with the Republican brand and would sooner cut off their right nut than give up their Obama Hate-A-Thon.
And they really are mad at Powell for calling them out for it and spoiling their fun.