The most respected public figure in, or out, of American government endorsed Barack Obama this week. To even suggest that the endorsement of former Secretary of State, former National Security Adviser, former Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, the first African American to do any of the three and all of the three through three Republican and Democrat administrations, was a frivolous endorsement is lunacy.
Colin Powell STILL has the highest favorable rating to come out of government in the last ten years. He is the man who would’ve been the first black President, had he wanted it, in 2000. We never would have heard of George W. The same for this year in 2008, if he had wanted to run.
Powell really never had a taste for the indignities of politics. One almost felt that politics was beneath him, but being the American patriot he is, he always played where he was asked to play. He didn’t want to deal with the nonsense a national Presidential campaign brings about. Had he accepted a position on John McCain’s ticket, Obama’s Presidential prospects would have been a lot lower than they are now.
Retired four star Army General, Colin Powell, knows the military and knows the successes and failures of war, having led the nation through the Gulf War of 1991 and advised against the Iraqi War at the start of the Bush II administration. He was the only credible voice, considered the voice of reason, in an administration of war hawks that never fought in a war but was quick to start one.
They tricked him into being the front man for the war because nobody else in the administration had the credibility to sell it. They showed him doctored photographs, based on fabricated intelligence, that were supposed to represent the presence of “weapons of mass destruction.” We now know there were no weapons of mass destruction. It humiliated Secretary Powell and no longer being able to defend the lie, he left the Bush administration with his reputation a bit smudged, but with his dignity intact.
Still the biggest draw, save former President Bill Clinton, on the lecture circuit – drawing in $75,000 a speech – the public draws near when Colin Powell opens his mouth, and when Colin speaks – the world listens. So, when Secretary Powell went on Meet the Press to announce his choice for President, Republicans everywhere held their breath. So, did the rest of the world. Powell stated that he would cross his party’s line and vote for Senator Barack Obama. That was HUGE.
How huge was it? First, it bumped McCain/Palin out of the news cycle. Palin’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was the most watched SNL episode in ten years. It was supposed to be a demonstration of Palin’s popularity and represent one last shot in the arm to a McCain campaign in critical condition. Powell’s endorsement dominated the news cycle. Second, McCain couldn’t continue his bash on Obama. He had to try to refute the importance of Powell’s endorsement. Though he tried, it’s still the buzz of the political campaign. There was no refuting this endorsement. So, the talk radio propaganda machine has gone into full throttle to try to marginalize the endorsement. Silly Rush Limbaugh is at the head of the line trying to trivialize Powell’s endorsement, saying it was based on race. Obviously, he didn’t see the announcement.
Colin Powell gave the most articulate deconstruction of the failures of the McCain campaign, and of the dismal state of the Republican Party, that anyone has ever given. Powell’s rationale centered, not just on McCain’s inability to articulate solutions for an ailing economy, nor was it solely based on his pick of Sarah Palin, which punched a big hole in McCain’s judgment (in Powell’s opinion). It centered on the narrowing of the Republican Party in its effort to race-bait, scapegoat Arabs, drum up fear around terrorism, link Obama to terrorists, and most critically, demonize Muslims.
Powell’s articulation of an American Muslim soldier who died in Iraq, fighting for his country, and whose mother cried on her son’s grave with a star and crescent on his headstone, was the noblest demonstration of unbiased reasoning we’ve witnessed in this year’s whole campaign cycle (primaries and general). Every time Obama was accused of being a Muslim, Powell stated the appropriate response should have been, “And what is wrong with being a Muslim?” A true insight to the type of ideological demagoguery many Americans are subscribing to as McCain and Palin seek to steal another election based on fear and emotion.
I believe this, among other things, drove Colin Powell to reject his party, and reject his party’s nominee. High level Republicans usually don’t betray the party. They either leave the party, or they sit silent on the sideline. Colin Powell did neither. He initially went against his party, in hopes that in the future he can reform his party. In the meantime, he boldly asserted that Barack Obama was what the nation needed at this time, a “transformational figure” to transform a nation that has lost its moral center and it socio-political balance. Now, that’s huge.
The Republican pundits are saying Powell betrayed his party. The Republican Party betrayed Colin Powell a long time ago. General Douglas McArthur once said, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Colin Powell is one old soldier who has chosen not to just fade away. And again, being the voice of reason, he may have saved our nation…from itself.
Anthony Asadullah Samad
Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is an author, scholar and the co-founder, Managing Director and host of the Urban Issues Forum. Dr. Samad’s most recent book is entitled “Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom”. His national column can be read in newspapers and cyber-sites nationwide. His weekly writings can be read at www.blackcommentator.com. For more information about Dr. Samad, go to www.AnthonySamad.com.
Reprinted with permission from The Black Commentator.
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