Colin Powell and the GOP: The end of the affair?

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Once upon a time — way, way back, before Google even existed — there was a respected Republican Army general. America loved him. His party, too. So much so that many moonstruck GOP partisans fervently hoped Colin L. Powell would top a White House ticket, instead of boring old party standby-cum-safety-date Bob Dole.

Like we said, it was a long time ago.

To the list of history’s great break-ups — the continental rifting of Pangaea; the dissolution of the Soviet Union; the split between Kim Kardashian and that tall doofus she married on television — add this: Mr. Powell and the Republican Party.

The surest sign of irreconcilable differences? Mr. Powell’s recent appearance on a Sunday morning political talk show, in which the former secretary of state:

• Praised former Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s potentially contentious nominee for secretary of defense, as “superbly qualified” for the job because of both his military service in Vietnam and his world view.

• Said that the Republican Party suffers from a “dark vein of [racial] intolerance in some parts of the party,” citing ongoing speculation about the legitimacy of Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and former Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin’s statement that the president was “shuckin’ and jivin’.”

• Expressed support for a possible ban on assault weapons and more comprehensive background checks and registration procedures for gun owners.

• Lamented a “significant shift to the right” in the GOP that has produced “two losing presidential campaigns.”

• Added that “I think the Republican Party right now is having an identity problem” and that “if it’s just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty”;

• Noted that he voted for Mr. Obama twice, breaking a streak of voting for a Republican presidential candidate seven times in a row;

• Claimed that “I’m a moderate, but I’m still a Republican.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, conservative bloggers and commentators took issue with that claim. And pretty much everything else that came out of Mr. Powell’s mouth.

One labeled Mr. Powell’s performance “disgraceful.” Another asked, “Why does Powell continue to call himself a Republican?”

For sheer jilted vitriol, however, writer Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator earned a gold star, labeling Mr. Powell a “man of little character,” an “increasingly despicable … backstabbing lout” who “was afforded credit he didn’t deserve” for the Gulf War and “a nasty apparatchik currying favor with those in power. Maybe that’s all [Mr. Powell] ever was.”

Other than that, Mr. Hillyer, how did you enjoy the morning show?

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