THE BLOG

When it Comes to Colin Powell, What is Bill Kristol Up To?

09/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

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General Colin Powell has shrugged off good efforts by the Obama campaign to nudge his support into the open -- but while it can be understood that Obama's agents would try to sign Powell up, what does Bill Kristol have in mind stating that he expects Powell to tilt towards Obama?

Earlier today, Huffington Post's Seth Colter Walls quoted former national security advisor and CSIS Trustee Zbigniew Brzezinski saying that he expected Colin Powell to endorse Obama. Bill Kristol went a step further and said that he also expects the former Secretary of State to show up in Denver at the Democratic National Convention.

When I queried General Powell's office today, I received this statement from his office:

I am not attending any conventions and I have not decided who I am going to vote for. I have no idea why Bill Kristol started this rumor chain

Others received the same message.

So, what is Bill Kristol up to?

I have a hunch -- but it's completely speculative.

Since Steve Schmidt was given the operative reins of the McCain campaign, Schmidt has been pushing hard for flamboyant, dramatic showdowns to contrast McCain from Obama. He helped orchestrate the ongoing political theater on oil drilling. And Schmidt and his team have grabbed the Russia-Georgia conflict and tried to ratchet higher US-Russian tension rather than stand down, again to differentiate the McCain camp from what they hope is perceived as a more dovish Obama position.

My hunch is that Bill Kristol and friends don't want interest-calculating negotiators and balanced, sensible, pragmatic realists around McCain. They are perhaps using the Russia conflict to purge their foreign policy team of those who are not neocon or neocon-friendly -- and by trying to "export Colin Powell to Obama," Kristol is really going after his close friend and ally Richard Armitage while at the same time attacking General Powell's utility to Obama.

And who is helping Steve Schmidt and Bill Kristol orchestrate this purge and exploit this European crisis? I think Colin Powell's old White House nemesis -- Karl Rove.

Just a hunch -- but McCain's team is working on achieving national security clarity of the neoconservative kind.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note