"There’s also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. What do I mean by that? I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor [Alaska’s Sarah Palin] say that the president is shuckin’ and jivin,’ that’s a racial-era slave term. When I see another former governor [New Hampshire’s John Sununu] say after the president’s first debate when he didn’t do well, he said he was lazy. Now it may not mean anything to most Americans but to those of us who are African-Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with it."
So let’s get this straight. Mr. Powell holds it "disgraceful" to allege anti-Semitism of politicians who invidiously use the phrase "the Jewish lobby." But he has no qualms about accusing Mr. Sununu—along whose side he worked during the George H.W. Bush administration—of all-but whispering the infamous N-word when he called Mr. Obama’s first debate performance "lazy."
It’s hard to decide whether Mr. Powell is using a double standard hypocritically or inadvertently. I’ll assume the latter, since he seems to have missed the reason why Mr. Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense has run into so much opposition.
Consider the following hypothetical sentence: "The African-American lobby intimidates a lot of people up here." Would this pass Mr. Powell’s smell test?
Or this: "I’m a United States senator, not a Kenyan senator." Such a statement would be considered as so weird and unwonted that no amount of spinning (let’s say it was uttered in the context of a discussion of U.S. policy toward Africa) would have saved the person making it from immediate disqualification.