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.)