Monday, October 20, 2008

Do Not Miss the Deeper Significance in the Endorsements of Powell & Buckley

Image: Salvador Dali, Premonition of Civil War

Do Not Miss the Deeper Significance in the Endorsements of Powell & Buckley

By Richard Power

The endorsements of Colin Powell and Christopher Buckley are of profound importance. Although, I suggest, perhaps not for the reasons you might think.

There are many on the left and the right who will see these endorsements as hypocritical or self-serving.

But for me, they are of profound importance -- because they bring with them three great revelations --

First, if you ever doubted those of us who have warned you since 2000 that something was/is terribly wrong, I suggest that these endorsements offer the most damning proof of all. Both of these men have crossed a Rubicon of their own. They are not switching sides. As public figures, they are standing alone in the white heat. Yes, for Powell it was long overdue, and for Buckley, who was forced off the magazine his father founded, it is perhaps surprising that the moment ever came, but it did. It was the second time around for Powell, and this time he seized it. Neither of these men can go back -- at least not to the Republican Party as it is. They can only go back, like relief workers, after the great implosion, to clear away the rubble and lead the survivors to the hastily assembled tents. Why did they speak out? Why did they finally cross the Rubicon? Because they did not want to become our equivalent of the "good Germans" whose silence enabled the physical and mental brutality of the Nazi party to get out of control. Of course, they will not acknowledge this so openly, and if confronted with it they would likely reject the analogy out of hand, but you can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in their voice -- right, left, center -- this is the moment to make a stand. They choose not to stand with those yelling "Kill him!" and waving toy monkeys at the cameras. They choose not to stand with the Michelle Bachmans and yes, sadly, the John McCains, who are stirring up this brutishness.

Second, what I hear in both men's voices is a poignant and luminous loyalty. You might find that odd. After all, the knock on Powell is that it was his loyalty to Bush that made him stay on and not resign over the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But as I viewed Powell's Meet the Press appearance, and even more revealing, his curbside interview afterward, I realized that what motivated Powell then and now was not political loyalty or familial loyalty, it was loyalty to the military. His loyalty was to the military. That is why he stayed on to be devoured by the foolish desert adventure he could not prevent. He could not walk away because the military (which also fiercely opposed that foolish desert adventure) could not walk away. He did not stay out of loyalty to the political dynasty which he was attached to; he stayed out of loyalty to the military.
And Buckley? Viewing his appearance with CNN's vapid Howard Kurtz, I realized that Buckley took this stand out of loyalty as well -- loyalty to his own intelligence and intellectual integrity, and yes, loyalty to the intelligence and intellectual integrity of his father, as well as to the Conservative culture and philosophy largely shaped by his father; a culture and philosophy that has become as distant from the abomination that now dominates the right-wing as it was from the China of Mao or Russia of Stalin.

Third, viewing the principled stands of these two men, with whom I disagree on many issues, reflected something back to me that I am surprised to see, a loyalty to something deeper, something that does not belong to either side, but to all of us, and is at the center of what we are. I commend the political acumen of Obama. With it, he has created a space for this opening to occur. Perhaps, on the other side of this national political exorcism, we can establish once again a spectrum of left, right and center, within which each is grounded in integrity and common purpose. Perhaps there still is something that unites us, and calls us to something higher, at least at the moments of greatest peril -- "E Pluribus Unum." Perhaps.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

It is what the Founders did.

Here are the You Tube posts of the two interviews mentioned:

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Campaign '08, click here.

, , ,