Colin Powell, John McCain, the NRA and More Sunday Talk

Colin Powell rips GOP ‘intolerance,’ John McCain is undecided on Hagel, Paul Krugman scolds Jon Stewart, and more in our Sunday talk roundup.

Powell Rips GOP ‘Intolerance’

Powell for President? On Meet the Press Sunday, former secretary of state Colin Powell slammed “a dark vein of intolerance” within the Republican Party and defended President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. “They still sort of look down on minorities,” Powell said of some members of the Grand Old Party. “The party has to take a look at itself.” On Hagel, Powell said the former senator is “superbly qualified” to be defense secretary, and he was confident Hagel will be able to address concerns currently levied against him by a handful of senators during the confirmation process. Finally, Powell defended the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq, saying it was “the correct thing to do, and it was well supported by the intelligence.” That the intelligence turned out to be false Powell called “very unfortunate, but that’s the way it unfolded.”

McCain Not For or Against Hagel

Sen. John McCain said Sunday he would neither vote for or against President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, at this point. “I have a clear record of almost always giving the administration the benefit of the doubt,” John McCain told Face the Nation Sunday. Yes: almost. “This is why we have hearings,” McCain said. Still, he was clear: he has “legitimate questions that need to be asked.” McCain also betrayed a wry smile when host Bob Schieffer mentioned that John Kerry was President Obama’s second choice for secretary of state—after Susan Rice, whose potential nomination McCain worked hard to thwart.

Corker Troubled by Hagel’s ‘Temperament’

The ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary has “temperament” problems. “Just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon?” Corker said of Chuck Hagel on This Week. “I think there are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them. I have, certainly questions, about a lot of things.” This should be an interesting confirmation process.

NRA President: Assault-Weapons Ban Not Likely to Pass

Oh, good: more political impasse. On State of the Union Sunday, the president of the National Rifle Association predicted that a ban on assault weapons would likely not pass Congress. “There are millions upon millions of Americans who value the rights that they have under the Second Amendment ... and we think that they’re going to be heard,” David Keene told Candy Crowley. Keene met with Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday and came away with the belief that the White House task force on guns has not adequately addressed the concerns of gun owners. “We suspect that all he [Biden] wanted to do was to say he talked to us, and now they’re going to go forward and do the things they wanted to do,” Keene said. The New York Times reported Saturday that gun sales have “soared” in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Gun Owners of America Executive Director Against Background Checks

Who needs logic when you can have a gun? On Fox News Sunday, the executive director of Gun Owners of America spoke out against background checks for potential gun owners, calling them a waste of time. “It is false security to think somehow we’ll spot problems when there’s really no way to spot these problems,” said Larry Pratt of the mental illnesses or previous convictions gun vendors would try to catch before selling a firearm. Host Chris Wallace pressed Pratt and argued that nobody is calling background checks a “firewall” against gun violence, but Pratt was undeterred. Instead, he asserted, the government should focus on “doing away with the gun-free zones” in places like schools, which Pratt called a magnet to those who would come and slaughter lots of people knowing no one will be legally able to defend themselves.”

Krugman Scolds Jon Stewart

In an incredibly awkward Web exclusive for ABC’s This Week, Nobel Prize–winning economist Paul Krugman scolded Jon Stewart for The Daily Show’s coverage of the trillion-dollar-coin debate, saying Stewart should have given pro-coin proponents more credibility. “When he just turns [the show] into dumb ‘I don’t know nothing, but those people look dumb to me,’ he’s ruining his brand,” Krugman said. The New York Times columnist, who thinks the Treasury should consider the coin, went on to offer Stewart some comedy advice: “You want to be funny from a point of view of understanding what the issues are,” Krugman said. Ouch.

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How China’s Twitter Allowed for Journalists’ Protest

On Reliable Sources Sunday, The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz talked to Global Voices cofounder Rebecca MacKinnon about recent protests in China, which started when liberal paper Southern Weekend challenged alleged government censorship. Though journalists striking is not a new phenomenon in China, MacKinnon said, this time was different. Protesters’ ability to spread their message through Weibo, China’s Twitter, transformed the strike from a local grievance to a national concern. “In the past people would never have known about it,” MacKinnon said, but this time “people sympathetic came to support them from around the country.”