Colin Powell is a RINO on steroids

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell

Former General, Former National Security Advisor (to President Ronald Reagan) former Secretary of State (under President George W. Bush) Colin Powell, who publicly endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and seems to hold many current policy views more consistent with the Democratic Party line, told a Washington audience that he still considers himself a Republican “because it annoys them.”

The story that reports the remark says he grinned when he said it, but it seems that Powell wants to stand up for a brand of Republicanism that has largely disappeared from official party circles. He most recently broke party ranks by publicly supporting the Iran nuclear deal.

Unfortunately for his reputation and his place in history, Powell will be remembered for delivering the Bush administration’s case for the Iraq War to the United Nations, where he claimed to have evidence not only that Saddam Hussein was hiding Weapons of Mass Destruction but to know exactly what Saddam was hiding and where. He has never repudiated the remarks, nor claimed that he gave them out of loyalty to the administration.

Himself a son of immigrants, Powell’s alienation from the Republican mainstream seemed to be fed in part by the nativism that currently holds sway among many prominent leaders and presidential candidates So here’s how he explained his current thinking on his party, speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum:

“I think the party has shifted much further right than where the country is and it should be obvious to party leaders that they cannot keep saying the things that they are saying and doing the things that they were doing and hope to be successful in national level elections in the future, not just 2016… So I want to continue to be a Republican because it annoys them.”

(P.S.: In case you haven’t heard the term for a while, a “RINO,” as mentioned in the headline on this post, is an acronym for “Republican In Name Only,” a term of derision by right-wing for Republicans who deviate from the party line on various issues.)

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Comments (20)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 10/01/2015 - 04:28 pm.

    Just fade away, old soldier

    I have not forgotten nor forgiven your role in Iraq.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/01/2015 - 08:32 pm.


    Actually, it’s Powell who is a ‘real’ Republican as that party has acted historically and the current crop of reactionaries who are Republicans in Name Only, since the GOP of Nixon and Reagan would not recognize them (in either sense of the word).

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/02/2015 - 07:06 am.

    Powell represents

    …the kind of Republicans I used to actually vote for. They’ve largely disappeared from the political landscape.

    In line with Paul Brandon’s comment, my own view is that many people who like to call themselves “conservative” nowadays are, in fact, reactionary radicals who would be unrecognizable as Republicans to GOP party leaders of a few decades ago. In that light, Powell’s comments about the party’s electoral plight in 2016 – and in future elections – seem right on the mark.

  4. Submitted by John Appelen on 10/02/2015 - 08:17 am.

    Who is Shifting

    “I think the party has shifted much further right than where the country is ”

    I always find this statement interesting, it implies that the GOP is the group who is moving… Whereas in reality it is the country that has been shifting to the Left for decades.

    Any idea why Liberals insist on saying the GOP is moving Right instead of just saying the GOP is still fixed in their 1960’s positions?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/02/2015 - 09:17 am.


      It was a Republican administration that created the EPA and the Legal Services Corporation, among other things. How highly do they rate with today’s Republicans?

      As conservative apologists never tire of mentioning, the Republican caucus in Congress provided essential support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the one a certain Senator from Kentucky once said he would have opposed, but then he realized how that sounded), and the Voting Rights Act. How strong would the support from the post-southern strategy Republicans be today?

      The line about the Democrats having moved to the left is an old joke, and not a very funny one. It was popularized by President Reagan, who proclaimed himself a great admirer of FDR. Essentially, it says that I got what I wanted, people like me have been taken care of, and everyone else has what I think they should have, so shut up. We don’t need to advance ideas like racial or gender equality any further. Enough is enough. People who blather on like that conveniently forget how far to the left FDR was (Social Security, WPA, rural electrification, etc.).

      • Submitted by Josh William on 10/02/2015 - 10:27 am.


        I wholeheartedly agree. The right is almost becoming extreme; for them to claim the democrats and even the entire nation is moving more to the left demonstrates itself how far they are shifting.

        The ultra-conservatives are now even claiming that the Pope is too liberal. Google “The Left Has Its Pope” by Sowell (which makes me cringe to even read it).

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/02/2015 - 10:30 am.

        And yet

        I personally don’t think the Democrats have moved to the Left, I think they have always been there and they just keep trying to pull the country that direction further. (ie enough is never enough)

        Where as you said, the GOP did/does support many moderate positions. However they realize that one can have too much of a “good thing”.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/02/2015 - 12:25 pm.

          “Too much of a ‘good thing'”

          Sure, we have too much of that so-called good thing “voting rights.” And environmental protection? Enough is enough. Time for the hydrocarbons in your water, people.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/02/2015 - 06:34 pm.

            No such thing

            Now I understand that most tree huggers will be happiest when we are all back to riding bikes or walking everywhere, and that no regulatory or technological cost is too high. However I think most of us understand that we made wonderful improvements in the 20th century and that future improvements need to be balance against their cost and the impact on our global competitiveness if we want to maintain our high standard of living.

            Since I see requiring every citizen to have a valid photo ID and be “on the grid” as a good thing. We will have to agree to disagree on the voter rights issue.

            • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/03/2015 - 12:36 pm.

              Dr. Pangloss

              I presume.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/04/2015 - 11:45 am.

              Balancing Future Improvements.

              So we’ve accomplished all we really need to? The rest is just details?
              The “look at the extremists on the left” jab (I thought you were serious on first reading, but then realized it was hyperbole. Well played!) does not answer my point. Once, Republicans held environmental protection as an important value. Now, there is legislation to abolish the EPA, co-sponsored by several Senate Republicans (among them, some of the much-vaunted “moderates,” and one “maverick”) Strong support for the Voting Rights Act (even St. Ronald of Burbank came around on that one) has morphed into “it’s no longer necessary” pieties, and the “non-intrusive, reasonable” requirement of voter ID (BTW, is it a coincidence that solidly Republican Alabama, which has a voter ID requirement, is closing drivers’ license bureaus in African-American counties? I’m sure it is).

              While were on the subject, how about that ERA? It was in the Republican platform for decades, before the Democrats got around to consider it. Then, reveille blew, it was morning in America, and it suddenly became unnecessary.

              If we are going to play “both sides do it,” however, my response would be that the Republican extremists are in positions of power and real influence in the Republican Party. The hard-core environmentalists, who take their beliefs to extreme and sometimes nausea-inducing levels, are marginalized. Therein lies the fundamental difference.

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/04/2015 - 11:13 pm.

                Apparently the Republicans have been sparring internally for a long long time. I like these quotes from:

                “The Republican Party split into a majority “Old Right” (based in the Midwest) and a liberal wing based in the Northeast that supported much of the New Deal. The Old Right sharply attacked the “Second New Deal” and said it represented class warfare and socialism. ”

                “Voters liked Ike much more than they liked the GOP, and he proved unable to shift the party to a more moderate position. After 1970, the liberal wing faded away.”

                As for the Democrats, they definitely seem to be struggling for a common voice also. I mean one of the leading Presidential candidates is a self described Democratic Socialist. At least it is never boring. 🙂

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 10/02/2015 - 11:42 am.


      Mr. Holbrook provides some very good examples, but there are also people who track the data (congressional votes) and can show its the Republicans are the ones moving. See, for example,

      I can’t speak to why liberals “insist” the GOP is moving right, but they are correct in doing so. What is interesting to me is why people classify things that are objectively untrue as “reality” and imply that those who are correct got it wrong when they themselves are wrong.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/02/2015 - 06:49 pm.


        I have looked at those studies and have to disagree with them. They seem to be measuring against the floating average which is moving Left. (ie like Powell’s comment) As a boat moves further from shore, it looks like the shore is moving to a person on the boat.

        As far as I understand the GOP has been pro-religious rights, anti-gay rights, pro low taxes, anti big government, anti-welfare (ie wealth transfer), anxious about extreme environmentalism, anti-reverse discrimination, anti-public employee unions, etc for a very long time.

        Now the question is has the societal norm gone so far left that that the shore looks far away? Possibly.

        And it is likely that the GOP was fine with changes that improved the USA, and that now they think we are approaching a very scary tipping point. (ie more than 1/3 of GDP to feed government, regulations, and wealth transfer) (less than 2/3 for familes to use as they wish)

    • Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/02/2015 - 01:11 pm.

      Which republicans?

      Depends on how you define republican doctrine of the past. Certainly the administrations of Eisenhower & Nixon were quite moderate & mainstream vs Goldwater. The latter was a marginalized figure who was generally outside the mainstream of his party, never mind the entire electorate. Likewise, while the John birch society existed, it was viewed even by republicans as a bunch of crackpots & nutjobs; whereas now those folks fit comfortably in the so-called tea party, which has taken over the republicans. Clearly the party has changed to openly welcome such views, which are still outside the American mainstream.

  5. Submitted by Bill Willy on 10/02/2015 - 12:26 pm.

    I say Go For It!

    Paul and Ray (and what Colin Powell had to say) got me to thinking that everyone on the current political scene that thinks he and people like him are RINOs should band together and screw up the courage to take that scary leap of faith into what could prove to be America’s first Third Party To Be Reckoned With!

    They’re so close already, and it’s obvious they won’t be able to achieve their objective of saving America in time because of all the harassment and weak-kneed blocking of their efforts they’re getting – and will continue to get for too many more years – from those RINOs that just don’t get it!

    So I say to all True NON-RINOs, say a quick prayer, close your eyes and, like Nike’s ads used to say, “Just DO IT!” Cut the chord and start doing what you KNOW needs to be done to Save America by Taking It Back!

    Why wait? Do it now, before it’s too late! Just form the “Right!” (or “NINO” or “T+” or “Whatever”) Party and have at it. Leave the so-called “Republican Party” and (with you gone) its weak, empty, pretty much American In Name Only (AINO), burned-out husk of itself by the side of the road for the RINOs to inhabit and do whatever they want with.

    Or, put another way… Stop hiding behind the RINOs and blaming them for everything you don’t blame the Unmentionable Party for and have a little more faith in your fellow-American’s intelligence and ability to pick up on the importance and urgency of your message and plans. Stand tall, stand strong, stand proud on your own and let the voters decide!

    Do America a favor – save it, take it back, hurry! – by engaging in that most American of Ways by Going For It in the pure fashion only you are (currently) capable of understanding and explaining in a way that will resonate with the American Public like the pure clanging of the Liberty Bell and propel you into the power necessary to preserve the Greatest Republic the world has ever known!

  6. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 10/02/2015 - 07:50 pm.


    Thought the article was about Powell?
    I like the guy and suspect would align pretty well with him: Fiscal conservative social liberal
    Not sure where/how folks calculate alignment.
    Thought fiscal responsibility was a right wing thing, but last noticeable fiscal conservatives were, Clinton & Carter, and looking more like Obama as well.
    Thought”right to live your own life W/O government interference was rightist, But jamming your nose into personal relationships, bedrooms, seems to be right wing!
    100% Agreement, far lefties are way to incompetent on being frugal with tax $ and holding folks responsible.
    PS: Guns in the street jeopardizes my ability to live my life W/O fear. Those lives were taken, that is a denial of freedom something it appears the right supports “my freedom is more important than yours” you are collateral damage.
    Go figure!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/04/2015 - 03:38 pm.

      Guns in the Street

      One political figure–no doubt a fringe element whom no one takes seriously–shrugged of the news of the Oregon shootings with a “Stuff happens.”

      It’s a good thing the Republicans have marginalized people who think like that.

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