While I'm no fan of former Secretary of State Colin Powell after the role he played with misleading our country into invading Iraq, I was glad to see someone finally take Sean Hannity to task for his obsession with Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
During an interview with Powell on his Fox News show, Hannity said that he finds Obama to be "one of the most divisive figures in -- that I've witnessed in politics today."
Powell responded: "[T]hat's a term that's being used rather freely. I don't think he's that divisive an issue." Powell then asked, "What could have been more divisive than, when President Obama was inaugurated, for a number of Republicans, friends of mine, and a number of commentators to say, 'We're going to destroy him. We're going to destroy him'?"
Hannity replied: "I was one of his harshest critics. I wasn't out to destroy him." Hannity also asserted: "Well, I was critical about Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright." Powell responded: "I don't know Bill Ayers from the man in the moon. Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright are just passing things through [Obama's] life." Hannity then said that Obama spent "20 years" in Wright's church, to which Powell responded: "Well, so?"
Full transcript of that portion of Powell's interview below the fold.
HANNITY: Well, hopefully -- look, I have never been more worried than I am today about the economy, about the world situation. You know, this is -- I have known you for a long time. You were gracious enough as secretary of state, you would grant me interviews. And I spent time with you. I have watched your military career, where you grew up in New York. You didn't grow up with a silver spoon in your mouth by any stretch. And you've achieved the highest levels of power. And you work for Ronald Reagan. And what I didn't understand -- and hopefully, you can explain this -- is I look at President Reagan and where he stood on socialized medicine, on lower taxes, on limited government, government is the problem, not the answer. And then I watched as you endorsed President Obama -- I didn't understand it. And a lot of conservatives didn't understand it.
POWELL: I know that. I looked at it very carefully back in 2008. And I saw the economy going into a free fall. I saw a situation where we were in two wars that really weren't sorting themselves out as cleanly as they should.
POWELL: I felt that the Republican Party at that time was conveying an impression of harshness, there was a certain ugliness of some of the things that were being said about President Obama, and some of the things that you see at the campaign events. But it was the economy more than anything else that I thought he might be better able to handle than somebody who I have the highest regard for and have known for 30 years, and that's John McCain.
HANNITY: You know, I watched and I remembered -- and maybe this is just a point of disagreement we wouldn't be able to resolve. You know, when you didn't like in particular, you felt it was a character assassination to bring up, like, Bill Ayers. Let me go back and this is what you said at the time. And let me play it for and you ask you a question out of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
POWELL, OCT. 19, 2008: I was troubled a couple of weeks ago when in the middle of the crisis, the campaign said, we are going on go negative. And they announced it, "We are going to negative and attack his character through Bill Ayers." And now I guess, the message this week is, "We are going to call him a socialist." Mr. Obama is now a socialist because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have.
POWELL, "MEET THE PRESS"/NBC, OCT. 19, 2008: Because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities -- and we have to take that into account -- as well as he has substance, he has both style and substance. He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming in to the world, onto the world stage, on the American stage, and for that reason, I will be voting for Senator Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HANNITY: That's when you made the endorsement. You said because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, reaching out across America. The president himself has now said the Republican plan for this country is for dirty air and dirty water. You are still a Republican, right? That Republicans want kids with autism and Down's syndrome, the elderly to fend for themselves. We have the Democratic ads, Paul Ryan look-alikes throwing granny over the cliff.
Does that sound inclusive? Seriously, because I find him one of the most divisive figures that I've witnessed in politics today.
POWELL: Well, that's a term that's being used rather freely. I don't think it's that divisive of an issue. I think we have right now, we have dueling points of view strongly held by both sides. And the president is starting to go to the mattresses, just as the Republicans are going to go to the mattresses to try to win the election.
What could have been more divisive than when President Obama was inaugurated for a number of Republicans, friends of mine and a number of commentators to say, we are going to destroy him. We are going to destroy him.
HANNITY: Who said that?
POWELL: A lot of people saying, I can get you a list, but I don't want to just take it off --
HANNITY: I was one of the harshest critics. I wasn't out to destroy him.
POWELL: I don't ever remember you saying it.
HANNITY: Well, I was critical about Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright.
POWELL: I don't know Bill Ayers from the man in the moon. Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright are just passing things through his life.
HANNITY: Twenty years in his church? Twenty years?
POWELL: Well, so?
HANNITY: Unrepentant terrorist giving speeches, starting your political career in his house, that didn't impress you at all?
POWELL: At the time it was a guy who is living in Chicago and happened to have a friend by the name of Bill Ayers. But I don't see Bill Ayers as having that kind of long-standing terrorist influence on the President. I mean, it is ancient history now. Why are we fooling with this?
HANNITY: Well, I don't think it's the issue. I think the economy and the president's record -- I couldn't see you and Reverend Wright's church for 20 years.
POWELL: I wasn't in Reverend Wright -- I didn't know anything about Reverend Wright or his church.
HANNITY: I know but that's my point.
POWELL: This thing explodes and it becomes a big -- 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, then-Senator Obama gave a speech on it and the American people took it in stride and they elected him president.
HANNITY: Yes, they didn't listen to me, that's the power and influence I have.
No they didn't Sean. Here's to hoping your continued attacks are ignored once again. As the post from Media Matters noted: