General Colin Powell Takes On The Neo-Conservatives

Gen. Colin PowellIt’s probably no surprise to anyone, but I’ve been reading rhetoric from the Republicans that has put me in a fighting mood. Mostly, I’m getting tired of how maggots like Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh are going after Gen. Colin Powell. While Right-Wing Neo-Con nutjobs might not be able to conceptualize this fact, most of the normal people in the middle of American political ideology are pretty damned patriotic. We love our country. We are tired of being derisively labeled “Liberal” because we don’t believe in perpetual war, institutionalized programs of survival of the fittest, or giving rich people free rein to rape and pillage the economy. We’re tired of being labeled “un-American” if we don’t believe in these things. We’re also sick of seeing good, decent, respectable men and women being tarred and feathered by the Republican propaganda machine.

People like Gen. Colin Powell.

What did it for me was hearing that a corpulent drug-addict like Rush Limbaugh was essentially calling Gen. Powell a traitor. Whether he meant that in a larger sense or whether he meant that he was a traitor to the G.O.P. is irrelevant. To hear a maggot like Rush Limbaugh impugn the reputation of one of our most decorated war heroes, a shrewd tactical general possessing a stellar intellect and a deep love for his country, is grounds for a good old-fashioned ass-whipping where I come from. You don’t question the integrity of a well respected man unless your own reputation is above reproach. To suggest that “Rush Limbaugh’s integrity” is anything but an oxymoron is laughable.

Dick Cheney disagrees. When asked about whose vision of the GOP he’d side with, Cheney said;

“If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d choose Rush Limbaugh. My impression was that Colin was no longer a Republican.”

In March, Cheney told CNN, “Rush is a good friend. I love him. … I think Rush is a good man and serves a very important purpose.”

Well, at least you know what to expect from the Republicans, right? More of the same. Believe me, if they feel confident that they can go after someone like Colin Powell with impunity, the rest of us might as well make up our minds about whether or not we’re going to live in the real world or if we’re going to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid and join the circular firing squad that is the Republican party. The Republicans have learned nothing from their defeats in the last election. They can’t seem to grasp that questioning the credentials or intent of someone like Colin Powell makes them all sound like petty, raving lunatics to any but the most die-hard Rush Limbaugh fan.

Of course, you question Limbaugh at your own risk these days. He is, after all, the moral compass of the Republican party. Anyone who has criticized Limbaugh for his vulgar ideas and rhetoric finds himself faced with Conservatives who have suddenly discovered a love for Freedom of Speech. Well, for certain people, anyway. Bill O’Reilly might shout at people he disagrees with “Shut up! Just shut up!”, but demanding the same of him and Rush Limbaugh is a Liberal assault on their freedom of speech. Hmmm. A double standard? From Republicans? Who would have ever thought it?

Colin Powell’s only “crime” has been that he has a mind of his own, and he’s not shy about speaking it. He’s spoken about how the Republican party has shifted so far to the right that their only hope of survival is to face the fact that the rest of the country has not shifted with them. They would do well to listen to him.

Speaking a few weeks ago at a conference in Washington, Powell, the former secretary of state for one Republican president and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff for another, voiced the opinions that have put him in the cross-hairs of his Neo-Conservative critics.

“The Republican Party is in deep trouble,” he said. The party has to reconcile with the fact that the mood of the voters has changed, he said: “Americans do want to pay taxes for services… Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.”

The Republican Party has to take a hard look at itself, Powell said, noting that the GOP had lost the last presidential election by 10 million votes.

“The nation needs two parties, two parties debating each other,” he said. “But what we have to do is debate and define who we are and what we are, and not just listen to dictates that come from the right wing of the party.”

The one comment that made Rush Limbaugh most angry, though, was probably the one that was aimed directly at him. Powell, criticizing some of the party’s leaders for bowing too far to the right, suggested that neither radio commentator Rush Limbaugh nor commentator Ann Coulter serve the party well.

The party lacks a “positive” spokesperson, according to Powell: “I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without.”

In response, Rush Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney have tried to diminish the impact of Powell’s words by demeaning the man himself, suggesting that he’s traitorish and he might as well switch parties.

“What Colin Powell needs to do is close the loop and become a Democrat,” Limbaugh said, according to a partial transcript of his radio program on Limbaugh’s official Web site, “instead of claiming to be a Republican interested in reforming the Republican Party. He’s not. He’s a full-fledged Democrat.”

Cheney agrees, and said on “Face the Nation” on May 10 that Powell, 72, “had already left the party” when he endorsed President Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. “I assumed that that is some indication of his loyalty.”

Dick Cheney was wrong to believe that he had left the party, Gen. Powell said.

“Neither he nor Rush Limbaugh are members of the membership committee of the Republican Party,” Powell said. “I get to make my decision on that. I will continue to work in a way that I think is helpful for the country and helpful for the party.”

“Rush will not get his wish and Mr. Cheney is still misinformed,” he also said. “I’m still a Republican.”

Limbaugh’s big “gotcha” moment, and the one thing he has really driven into the ground, was when Gen. Powell stated that he had voted for Barack obama during the last presidential election. Limbaugh suggested that Powell had voted for Obama simply because he was a black man.

“I don’t want to exchange insults with him,” Gen. Powell said. “I laid out a very specific set of reasons as to why I was voting for Barack Obama. Mr. Limbaugh saw fit to dismiss all those reasons and put it into a racial context, that the only reason I did it was I was black and that I had never voted for a Democrat before. Oh, yes, I had.”

He even listed the men he voted for to be president: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush twice and George W. Bush twice.

Powell added about Limbaugh: “He put it in that racial context, and I thought that that was very unfortunate. What about the 69 million people who voted for Barack Obama?”

Powell called Limbaugh a “significant” entertainer who was entitled to his opinion. “But he shouldn’t have a veto over what someone thinks,” Powell said. Powell pointed to the way that Republicans have had to apologize for criticizing the radio host.

“When the chairman of the RNC, Michael Steele, issues the mildest of criticism concerning Mr. Limbaugh, and then 24 hours later the chairman of the RNC has to lay prostrate on the floor apologizing for it, and when two congressmen offer the mildest criticism of Mr. Limbaugh, they too within 24 hours have such pressure brought to bear on them that they have to change their view and apologize for criticizing him – well, if he’s out there, he should be subject to criticism, just as I am subject to criticism.”

Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh would do well to listen to Gen. Powell. A new national poll indicates that Americans have a much more favorable opinion of Powell than either Cheney or Limbaugh. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released last Monday, suggests that 70 percent have a favorable opinion of Powell. Only 30 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Limbaugh, with 53 percent saying they hold an unfavorable opinion. 37 percent say they have a favorable opinion of Dick Cheney.

People like Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh are the reason the Republican party is wandering in the proverbial wilderness Neither of them are willing to admit it. In the heady days after the 9/11 attacks the American people rallied around their president. The Republicans somehow viewed this as a validation of the Neo-Conservative movement that had been building since the 1960’s in response to the so-called “Hippie Liberalism” of the day. In their grief, average Americans didn’t realize that they were rallying around the most bitterly partisan government in modern American history; a Republican administration and a Republican controlled Congress that had no qualms about using the anguish of the American people to achieve their own political agenda, labeling anyone who disagreed with them or their agenda as “un-American” and “un-patriotic”, going as far as to suggest that anyone who questioned President Bush in “a time of war” was aiding and abetting the enemy.

The fact that Barack Obama won the presidential election by over 10 million votes says all that needs to be said about the ultimate rejection of the Neo-Conservatives and that bitterly partisan political ideology. The fact that Gen. Colin Powell has a higher approval rating than both Dick Chaney and Rush Limbaugh combined is a damning statement that the American people have learned a bitter lesson from the rampage of the Bush Administration.

Americans are waking up from the proverbial spiked Kool-Aid that the Republicans had used to poison our political discourse. Even die-hard Conservatives are waking up to the reality that while the Neo-Cons might have thrown one hell of a coming out party, now that the drunken rampage is over and a new day has begun, and light is pushing back against the darkness, the sobering reality is that while the Neo-Cons might have had their fun, we all now have one hell of a mess to clean up. Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh are like the two guys who don’t want the party to end, and stand at the exit in a drunken haze, rambling incoherently and taunting those of us who desperately need to go home to the real world.

To my mind, Gen. Colin Powell is like the father figure who pulls you aside and points out that you’re going to have to make decisions at some point about what you want to do with your life, that you can’t spend the rest of your days drinking the spiked Neo-Con Kool-Aid and running naked through the political landscape. Maybe in your drunken rampage it was fun to give full rein to your wildest bizarre ambitions and paranoid delusions, but it’s time to face up the fact that you did a lot of damage and we have a hell of a mess to clean up. Put down the bottle and let’s get to work.

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