by Steven Jonas, MD
October 22, 2008
The Significance of the Powell Endorsement
There are many reasons why the Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama is significant and will indeed be included in that fairly small category of “endorsements that do make a difference,” Republican whining to the contrary notwithstanding. A number of those reasons have been discussed, at length. Two that have received less attention are as follows. President Clinton was perceived in the African-American community as the first “black” President, a “white black,” if you will. Similarly, Sec./Gen. Powell is perceived in certain segments of the white community, especially among service members and veterans, segments that otherwise may well be tinged with racism, as an OK black, a “black white,” if you will. Thus for these folks, the Powell endorsement gives Obama a very important imprimatur. “Well, if Gen. Powell says he’s OK, then I guess he’s OK, even if he is black.” It’s as if the Secretary is giving them permission to vote for Obama, even if he is (literally) an African-American.
Second, Sec. Powell did not make this endorsement on his own. The Secretary is nothing if not cautious. He knows many members of the top rungs of corporate America and particularly of the military-industrial complex. This move was discussed at length, one can be certain, and one can also be certain that the timing was discussed. (He may even have discussed with Bush 41, the Bush with whom he is truly close.) It is becoming increasingly obvious that major sectors of the US power elite do not want another four years of Bush 43 policies, and further may already be having nightmares over the prospect of a Palin Presidency, an almost certain outcome of a McCain win on Nov. 4. Consider for example that Goldman Sachs, the home firm of Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, is a major Obama financial backer. No, John. You cannot toss this one off by saying “well I’ve got endorsements from five former Secretaries of State [most of whom most Americans have never heard of].” Sec. Powell is the one who counts.
About Fannie and Freddie
Don’t you just love the fiction that the Republicans spin about how the financial crisis is all the fault of those dastardly Democrats who forced, forced I tell you, various bank and mortgage companies to make all those sub-prime loans under the guise of equal opportunity lending to all of those dusky folk? You know that back in 2003, Congressmen such as Barney Frank (gay and Jewish, you know), and Maxine Waters (black you know), were demanding that Fannie and Freddie guarantee loans to all those unworthies. And then came the crash.
Actually, as it happened, they might have demanded that, but, Republican Scream Machine, no one can require a bank to make a loan to anybody. They just demanded that the equal opportunity lending law be followed by Fannie and Freddie. But gosh, McCain’s Campaign Manager Rick Davis was lobbying away to get regulation of the two mortgage giants loosened. Anyway, it started on Limbaugh and Hannity, so at first I just sort of chuckled at the claims. But then there was John McCain, quoting the same fiction in the last debate.
First, as for the awful Democrats being responsible for the deregulation of Fannie and Freddie, as I recall, and correct me if I am wrong SeanRush, the Republicans controlled the Congress as well as the Presidency in 2003. They certainly could have tightened regulation if they had wanted to. Further, even if any bank or mortgage company could have been forced to make all those sub-prime and misleading and perhaps even fraudulent loans, no could have forced them to slice and dice and resell them in “securitized” packages. No one could have forced subsequent buyers of those securities to buy them apparently without knowing anything about what they were truly worth. This is proven by the fact that as the government starts to try to arrange to buy such “toxic” paper, for openers, no one seems to have the foggiest notion of their true value. But as I have often said, one must be very gentle with reactionaries and never, ever, try to confuse them with facts. Following that rule, Obama chose not to bring this point up in that last debate. He was just being thoughtful and considerate of Republican feelings.
The Ayers Thing
The Ayers Thing is getting worse and worse. Many BuzzFlash readers are familiar with first-term Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota who, on Chris Matthews’ show last week, said Bill Ayers “bombed the Pentagon and the Capitol” sort of as if, a) anyone could just walk up and do that b) it happened last week, and c) Obama, as a Senator, you know, let him in. These folks are using the Big Lie technique more and more frequently.
Then Bachmann went on and on about Obama being “anti-American.” Matthews was so intent on finding out whom she intended to catch in her anti-American net that he didn’t bother to ask her exactly how she defines “anti-American.” Is it someone who advocates: talking first and shooting second overseas, real health care financing reform, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, re-establishing Constitutional Democracy, re-invigorating regulation of “the market” so that it might operate with some semblance of equity; dealing with global warming in a meaningful way; ending the War on Iraq within some reasonable period of time; being, ohmygosh, someone who holds to all of these positions, you know, a “liberal?” You know, someone who is defined by Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh as a “traitor.” Unfortunately, dear old Chris didn’t go that way but instead let the woman rant on and on for about 10 minutes of what was really a McCain/Palin commercial.
Then a bit later on, there was Palin herself, not content to use what has become standard Republican liberal-baiting, and forgetting that her government is now moving sharply to partially nationalize several large banks, labeling Obama as a “socialist.” Takes me back to the days of my youth when red-baiting was all the rage. But then again, McCain was young then too, so I guess it comes naturally to him. And then they all tie up the whole package with Bill Ayers (and, I guess, all of those Chicago industrialists and political leaders who have spent a lot more time with him than Obama has — except that they never bother to mention them). Did I mention the Big Lie Technique?
Finally, when the Ayers subject comes up, Obama obviously could quickly put it down with a few choice words such as “Keating Five,” “McCain Transition-Chair Designate who was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein [a real terrorist, on his own people],” and “McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis,” who was an anti-regulation lobbyist for Fannie and Freddie until very recently. Why doesn’t Obama go down that road? Obviously, Team Obama (and they are some well-organized team) have decided that they don’t need to, that McCain was flushing his own toilet with his constant attacks over irrelevancies, larded with falsehoods. We need only hope that they were right. One thing for pretty sure. If they had, going back to the beginning of this commentary, they might well have not received Sec. Powell’s endorsement.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for BuzzFlash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/.
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