Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Is Colin Powell a latent Democrat?

BY: Gregory Kane January 23, 2013 | 12:00 am

Recently the former secretary of state -- rumored to be a Republican -- has been quite vocal in criticizing his own political party.

In no way am I saying Republicans are above criticism and do everything right. But there's something about Colin Powell's recent attacks that sound so, so, well, so Democratic National Committee-ish.

Take, for instance, this gem: "There is a dark vein of intolerance in this party. They still sort of look down on the minority." Sounds ominous, no? And it sounds like the refrain we heard from Democrats throughout the 2012 presidential campaign -- and before -- of how "racist" the Republican Party is.

The party with the "dark vein of intolerance" that "still looks down on the minority" is the one that has sent African-American representatives to Congress from predominantly white districts and has a black senator today. Quick, how many Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus won their primaries among predominantly white Democratic voters? Not many. Most CBC members hail from predominantly black congressional districts where the requirement for office is that the candidate be black, a Democrat, and is able to see lightning and hear thunder.

There are two Republican Latino governors, and Republican governors in Louisiana and South Carolina whose parents came from India. This is the party that Powell claims "still looks down on the minority."

To "prove" his assertion that Republicans are a bunch of intolerant rednecks, Powell dredged up exactly two examples.

When President Obama was trying to hoodwink the American public into believing that the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was something other than what it was, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said, "President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end."

Powell objected to Palin's use of the term "shuck and jive." "That's a racial-era slave term," he said. Now if I really wanted to be testy about this, I could ask Powell, "And your point would be what, exactly?" But I'll just use this rejoinder instead: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was New York state attorney general in 2008, used precisely the same term, about the same guy.

Referring to then-presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, Cuomo said, "You can't shuck and jive at a press conference."

So you see, Gen. Powell, there is bipartisan recognition of Obama's "shucking and jiving."

Powell's second example was almost as ludicrous. The former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sees racial overtones in former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu's claim that Obama lost last year's first presidential debate because he is "lazy."

"That may not mean anything to most Americans," Powell harrumphed, "but to those of us who are African-Americans, the second word is shiftless, and then there's a third word."

Said third word would be the dreaded "n" one, which Sununu never even came close to using. He didn't broach the word "shiftless" either. Powell, in his insipid effort to make his point, tried to impute racist motives to Sununu that were not in evidence.

And I have some bad news for Powell: Just because black Americans were -- and, among some, still are -- stereotyped as "lazy, shiftless" and that third word, doesn't mean that there aren't black people who are indeed lazy.

As for that third word: I challenge Powell to find a Republican that has ever used that word to refer to Obama. Oh, it has been done, but not by Republicans.

The person that did it was a member of the New Black Panther Party, those darlings of tolerance closer to Obama and his fellow Democrats on the political spectrum than any Republican Powell would dare hint is a racist.

Powell's "dark vein of intolerance" cry sounds like the excuse of a man trying to justify voting for Obama -- twice. It appears that Obama isn't the only one "shucking and jiving."

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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