The Deflated Legend Of Colin Powell
Posted 09/20/2010 06:46 PM ET
Punctured Pundit: Americans are grateful to Gen. Colin Powell for his exemplary service in uniform. But in his media-ordained role as political wise man, his knowledge and judgment leave a lot to be desired.
Powell is touted as a rare sage within the Republican Party (though it’s a funny kind of Republican who endorses Barack Obama at the worst time imaginable for his GOP opponent, in October 2008). The media present him as a better angel of our nature who has chosen to belong to a hellish political organization dominated by intemperate ideologues.
When former Secretary of State Powell speaks, we are expected to shush those around us and prepare to receive his wisdom.
But on Sunday, Powell again and again proved his sage status to be little more than a myth. Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the biggest embarrassment came when the veteran of the last three Republican administrations took a shot at “his” party on immigration.
“We can’t be anti-immigration,” this son of Jamaican immigrants contended, “because immigrants are fueling this country. Without immigrants, America would be like Europe or Japan, with an aging population and no young people coming in to take care of it.”
Perhaps Powell failed to notice on his trips to Europe as Bush administration foreign policy chief, but the Old World has been injecting itself with slow poison for many decades through mass immigration. Financial Times columnist Christopher Caldwell wrote a highly insightful book about it last year, “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.”
“Europe became a destination for immigration as a result of consensus among its political and commercial elites,” Caldwell noted. Those elites assumed that “immigrants would be few in number.”
The notion that Europe’s immigrants “would retain the habits and cultures of southern villages, clans, marketplaces, and mosques was a thought too bizarre to entertain. Almost all of the assumptions with which mass immigration began proved false.”
As Caldwell pointed out, “Europe is now, for the first time in its modern history, a continent of migrants.” But Powell seems to have some cartoon caricature in his mind of a pristine, insular Europe with a Roman wall around it for the last half-century.
Why, Powell might be asked, must the Third World be America’s nursery, as it has become Europe’s, with that continent’s ultralow—in some countries even negative—birthrates?
That’s the real explanation for Europe’s aging population, not Powell’s imaginary lack of immigration.
Had a Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle made this blunder, rather than a media darling like Powell, we’d never hear the end of it.
Turning to Powell’s political analysis, he lamented Sunday regarding the Obama administration that “the American people feel that too many programs have come down. There are so many rocks in our knapsack now that we’re having trouble carrying it.”
On the eve of the 2008 presidential election it was completely clear that Obama would spend us silly.
But on the same “Meet the Press” program, Powell raved about Barack Obama as if he were a genius who “displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge and an approach to looking at problems” that rendered him “ready to be president on day one.”
According to Powell, “because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities—and we have to take that into account, as well as his substance; he has both style and substance—he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming onto the world stage.”
“An exceptional president”—think about what lack of judgment that reveals on Powell’s part in assessing a politician whose achievements had gone little beyond the ability to woo a crowd.
Whether it’s his being mesmerized by Barack Obama’s oratorical snake oil or his knowing less about Europe’s demographics than a high school teacher, the aura around Colin Powell has gone.