Sean Hannity is a Man with a Message, which he tries to put across at every opportunity. Including last night’s interview with General Colin Powell, former aide to President Reagan, Secretary of State under George W. Bush, and (oh horrors!) Republican who supported Obama in the last election. Powell, though, calmly and firmly gave Hannity back as good as he got.
Powell was on the show as part of a tour to promote his new book, “It Worked for Me: In life and Leadership.” Too bad he never got to talk about the book. Hannity gave him the introduction due an elder statesman, (“He’s the personification of the American dream), let him get in a few anecdotes about Ronald Reagan, then pounced: why did Powell support Obama in 2008? (cue a long clip of Powell endorsing Obama). “Because of inclusive nature of his campaign,” Powell replied. Hannity, of course, had to disagree. “I find him one of the most divisive figures that I've witnessed in politics today.” (And went on to explain why, but you've heard his spiel before, gentle reader.)
Powell also dissed the anti-Obama attack campaign, and the people who made it their business, practically from the day of Obama's inauguration, to destroy him. “I don't know Bill Ayers from the man in the moon. Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright are just passing things through his life. …Everybody tries to make it the defining issue of the 2008 campaign. And guess what, the American people heard it, they heard all the attacks, they heard all the things that were said about the Reverend Wright issue… and they elected him president.”
Powell also praised the power of compromise in government. (Remember compromise, gentle reader? It’s something politicians used to do back in the good old days.) “You have to ultimately to get a consensus from the people. The only way you get a consensus to move forward is for there to be compromise, so you can build a consensus. We're not doing enough -- OK, look, let's have a drink, let's play some poker together.”
Hannity did agree with his guest on one thing: that the most important campaign issue this year was the economy. But Powell didn’t go along with the right-wing orthodoxy that cuts to government are the only answer. “What we have to do is, you know, we can't just say, we are never going to raise taxes. … If we are not going to do that, then, we are going to cut the spending. But line up everybody and ask them, what are you really going to cut? And you don't get the numbers you need.” Hannity saw a chance for another Obama-bash. “He has given us $5 trillion in new Obama debt. He said he would cut the deficit in half, he has given us the largest deficit in history. He said he would eliminate lobbyists, it's a revolving door . As a military guy, I think when somebody goes out and apologizes, repeatedly as he has done for this country and you have served this country with such distinction that that would bother you. And that's where, I kind of, I don't understand… because you supported Reagan, how do you support somebody who seems the opposite?"
Powell took exception to the idea that Obama is apologizing for us to the rest of the world, but didn’t respond to any of the rest of it. He did imply, though, that it’ll be harder cutting government services than people might think. “The people like what they are getting from their government… I think we can do a heck of a job in cutting the size of government here in Washington…. And we need some serious people who will sit and say, look, everything's on the table (yes, he included Defense in that.)…. Look at all the government's raised in the last 20 years. The director of National Intelligence, TSA, Homeland Security Department. These are all pre-Obama. Why are they there? Because we need them. The country needed them.” And that was where the interview ended.
I haven’t always been a fan of Colin Powell, but I sure was last night. He held his own against Hannity’s antics and made it look easy.
I particularly appreciated him saying that he rejected the very premise of the talking point of Obama going on an “apology tour”. In several places, he corrected Hannity and then made the point that it would take too long to point out everything wrong in his statements.
I find it interesting that Fox tried to jump on the idea of Powell not endorsing Obama. But that’s not exactly what he said. He said he has not decided who he will back. He may well back Romney. Or he may go with Obama again. But he hasn’t outright said that he will not support Obama. Readers and viewers of Fox might not know that distinction.