Colin Powell was on Meet The Press today where he tried to explain to his fellow Republicans that President Obama is not a Muslim. Powell said, Next, he is a Christian. He is not a Muslim.” Powell and other establishment Republicans battle against churchers and birthers is a basically a conservative political suicide mission.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Powell was asked by David Gregory about the right wing birthers and conspiracy theories, and he answered, “I would, I would just tell my, my fellow Americans think carefully about what was just said. Think carefully about some of the stuff that is coming across the blogs and the airwaves. Let’s make a couple of points. One, the president was born in the United States of America. Let’s get rid of that one, let’s get rid of the birth thing. Let’s attack him on policy not nonsense. Next, he is a Christian. He is not a Muslim. Twenty percent of the people say he is a Muslim, 80 percent of the people apparently do not believe he’s a Muslim.”
He is also discussed the 31% of Republicans who believe that Obama is a Muslim, “Well surprise, surprise. But I’ll bet you a dollar if the unemployment rate was not 9.6, but it was down to 4 percent, then you would find only 5 percent thinking he’s Muslim. So they’re attacking the president on this line. But he is not a Muslim, he is a Christian. And I think we have to be careful when we, when we take things like Dinesh D’Souza’s book, which is the source of all of this, and suggest that somehow the president of the United States is channeling his dead father through some Kenyan spirits. This doesn’t make any sense. Mr. Gingrich does these things from time to time with a big, bold statement. He did it with Sotomayor, “She’s a reverse racist.” He did it with Elena Kagan, “She ought to pull out of–she ought to be taken off the, the nomination for Supreme Court justice.” And he does it occasionally to make news and to also stir up dust, kind of like the…”
As the Republican Party teeters closer and closer to being pushed off the cliff of sanity by the Tea Party, conservatives like Colin Powell are getting harder and harder to find. He is right. The Obama is a Muslim smear makes no sense, but I am not so sure that if the unemployment rate was 4% the fringe right would be any less inclined to conspiracy theories. These untrue smears about Obama have been around since he was running for President.
The underlying message of the birther and churcher elements are the same. They are both an attempt to delegitimize the President of the United States. The birther fringe explicitly believes that Obama is not an American citizen, thus an illegitimate president, while the churchers are attempting to equate Obama with Muslims, which is their prejudiced minds, is a kin to linking Obama to terrorists. Both movements have nothing to do with economic conditions or policy positions, and everything to do with spreading fear about the black man in the White House.
The way that Powell brushed Gringrich’s comments aside as nothing more than a publicity stunt illustrates just how slow establishment Republicans have been to take seriously the views of the far right elements of their party. The kind of sensible Republican Party that Colin Powell is advocating for does not exist, and may not again exist for a very long time. We can file Colin Powell’s comments under wishful thinking, as the Republican Party is moving in the exact opposite direction as Powell suggested.
What we have here is a failure to communicate within the Republican Party. The current party is purging “moderates” at a dangerously fast speed. Those same moderates are many of the establishment Bushites, who just a year ago appeared to be enemies of the middle and left of this country. Colin joins Karl Rove and others in a futile attempt to get their party back from the Teapublicans, which is looking more and more like a political suicide mission.