Most non left-leaning columns dissenting from retired Gen. Colin
Powell on an issue begin with a disclaimer along the following lines:

    He’s a great American … blah, blah, blah. War hero … yada,
    yada, yada. Model citizen … yak, yak, yak. Distinguished public
    servant … etc., etc., etc. Honorable man … wa, wa, wa. At least
    he’s not a Democrat … blah, blah, blah.

Not this one.

The only thing to be thankful for about Powell’s address to the
Republican National Convention on Tuesday night was that, while he was
talking, Liddy Dole couldn’t be.

While it was tightly written, well delivered and certainly didn’t go
begging for applause (and while I’ve no doubt it accomplished its
purpose — helping W. to get elected) Powell’s speech was at once an
object lesson on how not to be inclusive and a ticking time bomb
for the coming Bush administration. We’ll take ’em in that order.

Lott’s pragmatic first rule of inclusivity: Thou shalt not exclude
one’s own base in order to include groups that you haven’t a chance of
carrying in November. Like it or not, Gov. Bush will not carry a
majority of blacks, Hispanics or Asians. Just not gonna do it.

Powell violated this rule explicitly once and implicitly countless

First, he worked himself into a good dither about how America has 2
million people behind bars at any given time, reminding the audience
that “most of them
are men (duh!) and the majority of those men are minorities.”

“The legacy of our troubled (racial) past,” he reminded the
delegates, “is still with us. … We either get back to the task of
building our children the way we know how, or we’re going to keep
building jails in America. And it’s time to stop building jails in
America and get back to the task of building our children.”

Response No. 1 (from the movie, “Canadian Bacon”):

President Alan Alda: “It’s time to turn off that war machine and turn
on our children.”

(Snickers in audience.)

Alda (seeking to rephrase that): “Turn on our children.”

Response No. 2: A great many people (including countless
“minorities”) could be released from said prisons if the War on Drugs
was ended. Think the general would go for that?

Response No. 3: I thought Republicans were the anti-crime party,
willing to bite the bullet in order to corral the excesses of human
nature into holding pens. Boy isn’t this new compassionate conservatism

Not really. As Mark Steyn observed in his Aug. 1 column in Canada’s
National Post, compassionate conservatism isn’t very compassionate to
conservatives. Regarding W.’s insistence that we’re to “leave no child
behind,” Steyn responded, “But leave all these cranky white bastards
behind: That suits us just fine.”

Of a visibly pained Oklahoma delegate who is a member of the NRA:
“(J)ust because my pal’s white and armed to the hilt, why should he be
excluded from the inclusiveness?” Good question.

For the remainder of the speech, Powell touted Bush’s education
reforms almost exclusively for their effect on minority students,
cheered the mass importation of immigrants to bid down the salaries of
high-end jobs, praised Bush’s appearance at the NAACP convention and the
governor’s rigging of the Texas university system to accommodate more
minorities without officially accommodating more minorities, reiterated
the charge that the Republican Party “no longer carries the mantle of
Lincoln” and said that Republicans should talk with black leaders
whatever their ideological bent. (“Hey, Mr. Farrakhan, just calling to
ask for your views on tort reform. … Oh, you think if we got rid of
the Jews, that would solve the problem. … Interesting proposal;
we’ll have to mull it for a while.”) Taken together, this would somehow
make America into a great nation once again.

But the most controversial (and unfair) line of his speech, he saved
for near the end:

“We must understand the cynicism that exists in the black community,
the kind of cynicism that is created when, for example, some in our
party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative
action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education, but you
hardly hear a whimper when it’s affirmative action for lobbyists who
load our federal tax code with preferences for special interests. It
doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. You can’t make that case.”

My translation: Hey you bunch of rich white boobs, leave affirmative
action alone, or there are going to be problems. Capice?

Mickey Kaus’ (of translation: “Powell was basically
saying, ‘F— you!'”

The scene reminded me of that dark moment during the vice
presidential debates when Al Gore thanked Jack Kemp for being one of the
few non-racists in the Republican Party and Kemp replied not, “How dare
you slander the good names of so many of my friends like that! More
Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats,” but, “Thank
you Al. And kick us again while you’re at it.” (I made the last bit up.)

So how did the delegates — that mass of wealth and power and
whiteness and pent up racial prejudice — react? With rapturous
applause. Huh?

I’m surprised they didn’t launch into loud chants of, “Hit us again,

It was, to put it mildly, a torturous moment. The Stupid Party had
officially become the Stupid Self-Hating Party.

Memo to Gov. Bush: You won’t be able to beat the Democrats at
identity politics by offering your own softer version of same. They’re
too good at it and they’ve been at it for too long. But keep it up and
you might just be able to destroy your own party in the process. Oh,
yes, and, in the middle of your first term, when conservatives mount a
serious push to end affirmative action and Powell and company threaten
to resign in protest, you’ve no one to blame but yourself.

Jeremy Lott
is the senior editor of

Spintech Magazine.

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