The right reacts to Powell

THE RIGHT REACTS TO POWELL…. Colin Powell offered a detailed, reasoned, and eloquent endorsement of Barack Obama yesterday, explaining how and why he came to this conclusion. In response, leading conservatives considered Powell’s analysis, reflected on the merit of his arguments, and judiciously weighed the significance of Powell’s forceful announcement.

No, no, I’m just kidding. Far-right voices dismissed the development as nothing more than an easily ignored racial matter. The conservative luminaries included:

* Rush Limbaugh, who said, “Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race… OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I’ll let you know what I come up with.”

* Pat Buchanan, who told MSNBC’s audience, “All right, we gotta ask a question. Look would Colin Powell be endorsing Obama if he were a white liberal Democrat…”

* George Will didn’t go quite as far, but he nevertheless emphasized a racial angle and got an Al Sharpton reference in: “I think this adds to my calculation — this is very hard to measure — but it seems to me if we had the tools to measure we’d find that Barack Obama gets two votes because he’s black for every one he loses because he’s black because so much of this country is so eager, a, to feel good about itself by doing this, but more than that to put paid to the whole Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson game of political rhetoric.”

Assorted far-right bloggers and Republican activists weighed in with similar assessments.

That Powell might have been telling the truth about his motivations is, apparently, out of the question. As the right’s argument goes, Powell, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former National Security Advisor, and former Secretary of State — who, by the way, contributed the maximum to John McCain’s campaign last year — took a look at Obama’s skin color, and just knew what he had to do.

Far-right political analysis — it’s easier than thinking.

Imagine if Powell had endorsed McCain, and leading liberal voices said the only reason Powell supported him is because both served in the military, or because both are in their early 70s (McCain is a year older than Powell). The conservatives would say this is ridiculous, and they’d be right.

In their drive to dismiss the significance of Powell’s support for Obama, though, emphasizing race is even worse than ridiculous.