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Colin Powell and The Republicans

Memo to the General: You Ain't One

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 13, 1995.

After Republicans have stopped barely short of proposing marriage to Colin Powell, some shocking news. General Powell has announced his favorable views known, and Republican handlers and panderers have had to be revived. General Powell has announced his favorable views on affirmative action, gun control, and abortion. No matter how it’s packaged, Powell cannot be a Republican, or at least a Republican as defined by Gingrich.

This will be interesting. As long as Republicans expected Powell to be conservative, the race issue never came up – hardly ever, anyway. Now, watch the Buchannans and Robertsons and other yahoos start the insinuations as they try to Jessify Powell. But they have a problem here, as well. For Powell is the most admired man in the US. While I was in jail last winter, even the racist skinheads spoke admiringly about him, a surreal experience to hear. It was as if they weren’t even aware he was a black man, otherwise a type upon whom the vilest things were said. It was as if all US soldiers were white Aryans in their minds. A man whose image overshadows prosaic reality, who is the one exception in the minds of bigots and their associates.

That is an overwhelming asset and image, and one well worth exploiting today. For the nation needs a racial healer. So prevalent is the fear of race riots and/or assassination in the wake of the Simpson trial, that you can almost hear the negotiations. Imagine how much worse the tension would be if Bob Dole were President. Now imagine how much less if Colin Powell was the photograph in federal office buildings.

That’s a powerful image, yet image only. It has taken till now for the nation to learn Powell’s views aren’t much different that Bill Clinton’s. We still do not know if Powell has the stomach for politics in the public, as opposed to the military, arena. What we do know, though, must not be a happy thought for the fanatical Christian bigots, hypocrites, and panderers to myth who had hoped to make Powell theirs.