Powell’s Endorsement and the Pro-life Cause

This morning on “Meet the Press,” Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. Many viewers were no doubt surprised by this given that Powell is an old military man and a Republican (like John McCain). Nevertheless, folks have often overlooked some of Powell’s political views that make him less than your run-of-the-mill Republican.

Powell is pro-choice. Not only is he pro-choice, but he also appears to rank the issue high on his priority list for candidates. In the “Meet the Press” interview, of all the things that Powell might have said against McCain, he chose to warn against the fact that McCain would appoint conservative Justices to the Supreme Court. I knew Powell was pro-choice, but until this interview I didn’t know how committed he in fact is to the left side of the culture war.

Both Colin Powell and Condi Rice were once considered the most likely people from the Bush administration to make a successful run for the White House. Both are pro-choice, however, and not very likely nominees for the Republican Party as long as social conservatives remain in the coalition of Republican voters. I question whether that coalition will survive this election cycle.

This latter point is what interests me most about Powell’s endorsement. Since the election of Ronald Reagan, a coalition of three groups has been responsible for Republican electoral successes. Those three groups are social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and national security conservatives. It may be that we are witnessing in this election cycle the dissolution of that coalition. I don’t know what kind of Republican Party will emerge on the other side. It may very well be that a pro-choice Republican Party will emerge. (This was my concern with Rudy Giuliani’s candidacy last year.)

At the end of the day, I really don’t care about the Republican Party per se. Political parties are merely mechanisms that citizens may use for good or for ill. Nevertheless, if the Republican Party loses its pro-life base (and plank in its platform), then there will be no viable mechanism for ending the regime of Roe v. Wade. Moreover, we will likely see the abortion license expanding with tax-payer funded abortions.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. Powell’s endorsement is not causing any of this. I’m just suggesting that it may be reflecting a shift that is already underway in the grassroots. Only time will tell if this is really the case.

My main concern in all of this is the unborn, and it doesn’t look like our government will recognize their inalienable right to life anytime soon. I hope and pray that I’m wrong.


  • Ray Van Neste

    This (Condi and Colin) is another example of how far from ‘conservative’ the Republican party is. The GOP is struggling after nominating a less than conservative candidate for President.

  • Paul


    the problem is truly that you can define conservative in about 8 different ways.

    First, there’s the libertarian conservative. Laissez Faire fiscal policy, a blind eye towards victimless crime and an isolationist foreign policy would all make one a true small government conservative.

    I know that conservatives from other camps will pound the ground and scream, but the libertarian version of a conservative (that your boys William Buckley, Barry Goldwater and plenty of others espoused) is certainly one version of a conservative.

    At the same time, there’s the social conservative. And a social conservative can be a fiscal conservative (like Romney) or one can be a “compassionate conservative” like Huckabee and still hold that claim to being a conservative.

    Then, there’s the fiscal conservative who is liberal about everything else (see Mike Bloomberg). That’s certainly still a very valid wing of conservatism, and no matter how much the Dobson crowd wants to think otherwise, the wing that will ALWAYS ultimately rule the Republican Party.

    And then there are the chickenhawks like McCain and Kristol who may or may not be conservative about anything else, but want us to be able to bomb anyone and everyone who disagrees with us back to the stone age.

    That’s the problem with big tents. Y’all can’t even agree on a definition of conservatism, and you want to talk about who’s conservative?

    Really, it’s kinda funny.

  • Branden

    It would be a boon to conservatives if the social libertines that are fiscally conservative would shift to the dem party, where they belong, and help to pull the dems away from their marxism.

    Then the repubs could actually be a conservative party.

    But that ain’t going to happen.

    Conservatism is fighting the long defeat.

  • Branden

    Interesting article:

    Restoring Conservatism

    Real conservatism needed

    If the election were held today, Barack Obama would be the new President of the United States of America. The latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls shows Obama ahead of McCain by nearly seven percentage points. It looks like the Democrats are going to have control of both the White House and Congress for the next four years. And, mark it down, if there is a Democrat sweep, conservative Republicans will get the blame.

    The fact of the matter is, however, that President Bush and the Republicans who dominated Congress during most of his administration governed as anything but conservatives. Except during election season, it has been difficult to find any trace of conservative principles among incumbents within the Republican Party. During their tenure, Republican governance was characterized by out of control spending, record-setting earmarks, affirmative action programs for corporate wrongdoers, corrupt relations with special interests, and sexual scandal. While they often described themselves as “conservatives,” their walk was very different from their talk…

    During the period of Republican hegemony, no real ground was gained on reforming entitlements, no major effort was made to curb abortion (or even abortion funding), and the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product rose to a 50-year high!

  • Travis Hilton

    There is nothing suprising about this announcement. The media likes to spin it, but “shocking”, its not. Powell has revealed his core beleifs on social issues in the past. He obviously has no reservations about endorsing a liberal candidate who is on record that he will reduce our national defense. None of that seems to alarm Powell. This announcement was made at this time for the “spin effect” pure and simple.


  • Paul

    “It would be a boon to conservatives if the social libertines that are fiscally conservative would shift to the dem party, where they belong, and help to pull the dems away from their marxism.”

    Uhhh, do some research, dude. The social conservatives make up the small third of the big three “conservative movements” within the GOP. And explain “Log Cabin Republicans” to me, as well.

  • Branden

    I truly do not care for your opinions.
    Umm, dude, you go do some research there, ummm dude.
    Here is a quarter, call someone that cares.

  • Don

    I think Powell was used by Bush to present some dubious things about Iraq to the UN, after that, Powell said no more. And now Obama has come out and said Powell will be in his administration.

  • Darius

    Hey all, the race has tightened. In the last week, Obama has gone from a 9 point lead to a 5 point lead on realclearpolitics.com. He got hurt bad in that debate.

  • Paul

    “He obviously has no reservations about endorsing a liberal candidate who is on record that he will reduce our national defense.”

    proof? link?

    Taking us out of Iraq does not REDUCE our national defense.

    And, if you count getting rid of the helium reclamation program as cutting national defense, I reserve the right to make fun of you every day for the rest of your days.

  • Greg The Anonymous Troll

    Paul: You are giving Trolls a bad name. Please stop it.

    The idea is that if you are in a war and you admit defeat and withdraw (which is what the Democrats have been advocating) then you both strengthen and embolden your enemies, which in turn “will reduce our national defense”. Is that too hard a concept for you to grasp? If you disagree then state your reasons.

    Instead we get:

    “if you count getting rid of the helium reclamation program as cutting national defense”

    Heavy hint from one Troll to another; When you intentionally act dense, people are eventually going to take your word for it.

  • John

    Here’s a question: If what all you hope for comes true. If McCain gets elected and you’re happy about it. If McCain actually backs up his rhetoric and really does appoint very conservative supreme court justices, and if Roe really is overturned and given back to the states to decide what they want. If all of this wonderful stuff happens (which would be nice, it’s just kind of fairy tale-ish), could all of this be obliterated if a democrat were elected the next term, or would the decision stand?

  • Darius

    I believe that if Roe V Wade is ever over-turned, it will never be reinstated. The battle will instead switch to the states. Every fair legal expert knows that Roe v Wade is utter trash from a legal perspective.

  • Greg The Anonymous Troll

    As long as politicians keep framing the issue along the lines of personal preference instead of identifying the Crux of the pro-life argument; (that the unborn are fully human from the moment of conception and therefore deserve the same rights protection as any other citizen) then the next group might just as easily change it back. However if you get a proper appreciation of the full humanity of the unborn by the SCOTUS, and they reverse the perverse ruling of Roe then it would be very difficult to reverse. It would be like trying to reinstate slavery.

  • Brian (Another)

    If Obama is elected and has his way (which is the crux of Dr. Burk’s previous post), it would, in essence, no longer be a personal preference to condone abortion as the Freedom of Choice Act* begins to invasively attack our culture at large.

    And John, yes, of course it is plausible that overturning RvW could get re-overturned (my head just got light) sometime later. What is the argument? If things are difficult or the outcome is gloomy that we throw up our hands and say, well, gosh, this is tough, time to give up. God’s ordained plan will not waver (though we don’t know what that plan is), but similar to what happened in Thessalonica, (but different in the specific application as that was essentially people sponging) we aren’t to give up and just wait for things to happen. We are commanded to lead peaceful and tranquil lives. Which means that if elected, we pray for Obama and the government the same way as for Bush, Reagan or Clinton. It also means we obey laws enacted by the president, congress, etc. (see Daniel’s example to complement** that). We don’t put big demonstrations together, etc. We are also (as disputatio enjoys pointing out) not to “flee to Egypt” (trust in horses and chariots.). Again, if Obama is elected, we don’t cease supporting crisis pregnancy centers (on the contrary, we should be more supportive of them since many will have reduced funding that is diverted to PP). Our trust shouldn’t be in our President spreading the gospel, but us (In the same manner as the RvW being overturned then reinstated, I still tell people about the good news even though that soil may be rocky or along the path). We don’t put our trust in our government “doing the right thing”, but what we value should be reflected in our priorities and, in this case, our priorities in what our basis is for why we cast a vote a certain way.

    * – See also Dr. Burk’s piece on it.
    ** – that is not a complementarian reference.

  • Hutch


    How can you call McCain a “chickenhawk”? A “chickenhawk” was somebody who strongly supported the Iraq War, even though he refused to fight in Vietnam (like Cheney and Bush). McCain is definitely NOT a chickenhawk.

  • Darius

    Hutch, as you will find if you watch these threads for very long, Paul routinely uses words that he either doesn’t understand or (more likely) doesn’t care what their meaning is. Chickenhawk is one of his more frequent offenders.

  • Paul

    What you’ll also find is that Darius, more often than not, is just a jerk to anyone on the left, with no real attempts made towards friendship or debate between his brothers in Christ.

    It’s just “I’m a conservative, and you’re a pooh for brains!”

    As for my Chickenhawk slip, it was just that. I didn’t even realize that I had written McCain there (a problem when you type too fast for your own good). You’re right, Shrub, Darth and Kristol DO fit that bill though.

  • antiochkls

    If “viable [political] mechanisms” to address Christian concerns are lost, if the Republican Party loses its status as American Chritianity’s default party, and if the non-biblical term “conservative” becomes more and more muddled, does any of that hinder the advancement of the Kingdom of God? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, considering history, it will probably advance the gospel.

    And amazingly, without Republicans or Democrats, Gospel-changed Christians do not kill their babies, marry persons of the same sex, or pursue selfish materialism.

    Wow, maybe the church in America will now be the church, rather than merely another political lobby (kiss-up group).

  • disputatio

    Denny, I noticed in your article on Giuliani that you stated “[t]here are many other issues that also make him an unacceptable candidate (e.g., opposition to ban on gay “marriage,” support for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research).” So, based on such a principled position, I can fairly assume that you believe that McCain (who also holds these views) is “an unacceptable candidate.” Glad to hear that!

    It is true that Powell is pro-choice. And it should come as no surprise that he is endorsing Obama. Powell is a military man. He has a mercenary spirit. He simply does what he is told. He just follows orders (e.g., selling the invasion of Iraq to the entire watching world). He truly lacks a firm set of political principles. So, after allowing himself to be used by the Bush adminstration to sell an unjust war, he lost credibility and his integrity suffered tremendously. Quite clearly, he is bitter about this. Understandably so, even though he is entirely to blame. However, in defense of his concern that a McCain administration would appoint “conservatives” to the Supreme Court–it should be pointed out that opposition to conservative Justices for reasons other than Roe v. Wade is certainly understandable, and should not be ignorantly lampooned as being on the wrong side of the culture wars. Why must you read abortion into everything? After all, conservative jurisprudence has supported white supremacy (Dred Scott), discrimination (Plessy v. Ferguson, Korematsu), while so-called liberal justices have supported the opposite (Brown, Gideon v. Wainwright, Loving v. Virginia). There are numerous Supreme Court cases where it was conservative jurisprudence that was clearly on the wrong side of the culture wars.

  • Darius

    Wow, disputatio, now you’re just making things up. Loving v. Virginia was a UNANIMOUS decision. In other words, both the liberal and conservative judges supported it.

    Same is true for Gideon v. Wainwright.

    Same is true for Brown v Board of Education.

    Plessy v Ferguson was a 7-1 decision over a hundred years ago when almost everyone, liberal or conservative, though that segregation was a good thing.

    Regarding Korematus v United States (a 6-3 decision), legally speaking, it was good law. Morally, quite questionable. The writer of the majority opinion was Hugo Black, who is generally thought of as neither liberal nor conservative, since he tended to jump around in his views.

    Lastly, the Dred Scott v Sandford majority opinion was authored by Justice Taney, a Democrat who was hounded by Lincoln and other Republicans til his death for that decision.

    So, either you are truly ignorant and just love to spout off cases to make yourself look smart, or you are perhaps the most intellectually dishonest person I’ve seen on a blog (and I’ve seen a few dishonest people).

  • disputatio


    Your quick perusal of wikipedia to gain elementary knowledge of the cases I cited is laughable. If you’d actually read the opinions in their entirety and possessed some knowledge of legal history and the various schools of judicial philosophy, perhaps you’d understand my point.

    My larger argument, which you failed to grasp, is that numerous Supreme Court decisions that we as a nation consider to be just have absolutely no connection to an originalist (or conservative) judicial philosophy. Therefore, your hysteria regarding the unanimity of Court opinions such as Loving, Gideon and Brown is entirely irrelevant. These three opinions were in no way rooted in conservative political or judicial philosophy. If conservatism had been what animated the justices deciding these two cases, interracial marriage would still be a crime, the U.S. would still have segregated schools, and modern criminal procedure would not exist as we know it today.

    As for Plessy v. Ferguson, it was the epitome of a conservative opinion. Only Justice Harlan, the former Klansman, espoused a non-conservative opinion in his dissent. In this decision, it is clear that conservatism was on the wrong side of things and perpetuated injustice. Is it wrong for Powell to fear such a decision in our own day?

    Your comments regarding Korematsu support my argument. It was conservative, or in your words “good law,” producing a “morally…questionable” result. My point exactly. As an aside, your comments on Justice Black strangely resemble a wikipedia article. In any event, Justice Black is known to be an originalist, and to have espoused the sort of judicial philosophy that most conservatives advocate today.

    That Justice Taney authored Dred Scott in no way refutes my argument. Dred Scott is one of the messiest cases in Supreme Court history, and causes problems for any one attempting to assert a grand theory of judicial interpretation. Nevertheless, it was clearly decided based on conservative principles, and deserves every bit of the ignominy and scorn that it has received over the last 150 years.

    In sum, it is quite clear from history that so-called conservative jurisprudence can lead to morally questionable results, and that non-conservative jurisprudence can lead to just result. Thus, knee-jerk negative reactions toward Powell or others who are concerned about another conservative justice on the Bench reveal a profound ignorance of jurisprudence and the numerous Supreme Court opinions that warrant such concern by Powell and others.

  • Darius

    Ok, lie and obfuscate all you want. You have now shown that it wasn’t ignorance that led you to make those claims. Everyone on here now knows it, and you have lost all credibility. You’re just a troll, coming back with ad hominem attacks because you got called out as a liar. Yes, I checked on some of those cases via Wikipedia or other sources; I’m not a SCOTUS scholar so I had to research some of those cases. What does that have to do with your lies?

    “My larger argument, which you failed to grasp, is that numerous Supreme Court decisions that we as a nation consider to be just have absolutely no connection to an originalist (or conservative) judicial philosophy.”

    You also said “After all, conservative jurisprudence has supported white supremacy, discrimination, while so-called liberal justices have supported the opposite. There are numerous Supreme Court cases where it was conservative jurisprudence that was clearly on the wrong side of the culture wars.”

    Yet half of the decisions you listed were unanimously supported by both conservatives and liberals. So unless all of those conservative judges didn’t know how conservatism applied to the their decisions, it would appear that you’re just making this up as you go.

    “Therefore, your hysteria regarding the unanimity of Court opinions such as Loving, Gideon and Brown is entirely irrelevant. These three opinions were in no way rooted in conservative political or judicial philosophy.”

    What hysteria? I merely pointed out that you’re a liar, nothing more. You claim that the primarily conservative court somehow voted against its nature on all those cases, and that it’s proof that conservative courts lead to bad results. Bizarre logic.

    “Your comments regarding Korematsu support my argument. It was conservative, or in your words “good law,” producing a “morally…questionable” result.”

    I never said that the law is now wrong. It still is good law, it was just abused by the government. The decision was correct. Abuses of loopholes in the law don’t make the law wrong, it means that another law is required.

    Lastly, your argument acts as a red herring, since the discussion at hand is in regards to TODAY’S liberal vs. conservative judisprudence. And today, the liberal mindset has ruled on the wrong side of morality and the Constitution 98% of the time on all major decisions. And even more so when it comes to the issue of abortion. I don’t really care what you think the conservative viewpoint of the law was in 1850 or if it was morally wrong then. What matters is if the current conservative jurisprudence is correct or not (especially on abortion).

    You keep throwing out red herrings like stem cell research and 150 year old decisions when you won’t address why you think Obama will be no worse for the issue of life than McCain.

  • disputatio


    Of course I know you “researched” the cases on Wikipedia–that great repository of legal information, which explains your inability to focus on the arguments at hand. You are out of your depth. You should draw near to listen rather than to speak. It proves nothing that you are able to demolish straw men of your own making. Perhaps if you calm down you might be able to understand why the unanimity of Loving, Gideon and Brown is of no consequence to my argument. These are NOT conservative decisions. They are the result of liberal or living-Constitution type jurisprudence. Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Thomas do not have the kind of jurisprudence that would have resulted in these opinions. But these men do have the kind of jurisprudence that produces Plessy or Korematsu. Therefore, it is entirely reasonable for Powell or others to be concerned about another conservative Justice–assuming conservative Justices have conservative jurisprudence.

    I have never said that Obama will be no worse for “the issue of life” than McCain. Where have I said such a thing? If you cannot demonstrate that I have, then you are engaging in slander, which is not becoming of a Christian. (And I assume by “the issue of life” you mean abortion, and not unjust war.) What I have said is that neither McCain nor Obama are pro-life. What I have said is that I will not support a candidate who would use my tax dollars to fund the destruction of human embryos. I don’t understand how you can consider yourself pro-life, yet refer to stem cell research as a “red-herring.” Whether Obama is “worse” than McCain only matters for those who are bent on choosing between two pro-abortion choice options.

    Lastly, given your lack of knowledge regarding Supreme Court decisions and matters of jurisprudence, I don’t see how you have any basis for declaring that the “liberal mindset” has been on the wrong side of the Constitution on 98% of all major decisions. What is a major decision? What SCOTUS decisions have you actually read? And be honest with yourself, because no one but you will know–have you even read the U.S. Constitution in its entirety? Or did you just “research” it on Wikipedia?

  • Darius

    First of all, I still don’t see why you talking down to me makes you Christ-like in the least. It’s truly pathetic.

    I have actually read (and understood) a few SCOTUS decisions in my lifetime. As for what a “major” decision is, I guess that’s kind of ambiguous. What I was getting at were those decisions which dealt with a significant moral issue. Such decisions would include Roe v Wade, PP v Casey, Kelo v New London, etc. What I don’t include in there are all the minutiae cases that SCOTUS deals with on a weekly basis. On all recent major cases that involved the freedoms of Americans or basic moral law, the liberals on the bench made up law as they went. Some referred to “international law,” completely ignoring the fact that their only consideration is supposed to be the Constitution. Others read their own views into the Constitution rather than just reading and applying it. Roe v Wade is an example of horrible law application, which a scholar like Francis Beckwith in his book Defending Life makes quite clear.

    The reason I said that it seemed liked you believed Obama would be no worse than McCain is that you won’t vote for one over the other yet you claim to be extremely pro-life on the issue of prenatal care. Your idealism is naive at best. You value your own righteous indignation (a very enjoyable feeling, I know) over the opportunity to save at least a few lives.

  • Rich Latta

    Thanks so much for your helpful comment on Powell’s endorsement. I have been quite taken by him in the past, and even in this interview, until you pointed his pro-choice stance. Its amazing how far-reaching this one commitment can be.
    Keep up the good work.

  • Mike Templin

    Hey guys,

    “Love one another”! Man you guys act like the world on this forum! You show no charity, love, or respect for one another. Are yall born again? If so why act the way you do? Are you all more worried about the kingdom of darkness or Gods Kingdom?

    in Christ


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