Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a prominent Republican political and military leader endorsed Barack Obama for President. What made the endorsement so powerful was not simply that it was from a long standing Republican, but that it was so well thought out and articulated. Powell hit just about every salient reason for supporting Obama:
The Economy: Powell pointed to John McCain’s unsteady handling of the current economic crisis as compared to Obama’s cautious, reasoned and reassuring approach.
The Vice Presidential Choice: Powell highlighted the terrible example of judgment exercised by John McCain in his choice of Sarah Palin for his Vice Presidential nominee.
A Campaign in the Gutter: In perhaps his most powerful point, Powell discussed his disappointment with the tone of the Republican campaign and the extremes they are willing to go to win. In a statement made after his appearance on “Meet the Press”, he mentioned Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann and her recent appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball”:
Ms. Bachmann is the closest we have come to the fictional Senator John Iselin from the 1962 film “The Manchurian Candidate”, in which Iselin states:
I am United States Senator John Yerkes Iselin, and I have here a list of two hundred seven persons who are known by the Secretary of Defense as being members of the Communist Party!
Ms. Bachmann came off sounding as much a fool as the buffoon Iselin, or his real life inspiration, Joe McCarthy.
Perhaps, Powell made his most convincing observation when he discussed the misconception that Barack Obama is a Muslim and expressed his dismay not so much about the misidentification but about the tacit value judgment being placed on Muslims.
Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That’s not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel particularly strong about this because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards – Purple Heart, Bronze Star – showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the head stone, it didn’t have a Christian cross. It didn’t have a Star of David. It has a crescent and star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.
In contrast to the Republican’s divisive xenophobic approach, Obama has run what Powell calls an inclusive campaign.
In less than 30 minutes, Colin Powell did more to clearly explain the appeal of Barack Obama and the shame of the Republican party than any other public figure to this date.
If you are undecided and still need a reason to vote for Barack Obama, you need only watch Powell’s appearance on “Meet the Press” to arrive at the inevitable conclusion.