Sunday, October 19, 2008
Powell Endorses Obama
Former Secretary of State and Republican Party luminary General Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama for Presidency. Percentage of Republicans who thought he'd be a great Presidential candidate himself in the 1990s, who now will view him as a traitorous wench, at 80% and rising.
It was an interesting endorsement video to watch. It is clear that Powell thinks the modern Republican Party has stretched way beyond where he's willing to go in terms of its race rightward. The concerns he laid out about the current GOP extend from the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as VP, to the prospect of two more conservative judges on the Supreme Court, to the steady increase of Islamophobic fear-mongering that has characterized the Party since 9/11. Now, it is fair to say that Powell -- himself always a rather moderate Republican -- may have simply been pushed off the edge as the party lines shift direction. And the Republican base will not take his defection as a repudiation, because Powell is precisely the type of fellow that they want out of the Party anyway. The inquisitorial process may soon give the GOP the purity of a political graveyard, but God help them if they aren't redoubling their efforts to excommunicate the insufficiently zealous.
But some of Powell's complaints should, in an ideal world, resonate with Republicans and Democrats alike. His anecdote about the Muslim-American soldier who died in Iraq for our country was quite moving, as was his rhetorical question about the seven year old Muslim kid who wonders if he can be President in America. The answer should be yes, but every signal we've received over the past few years indicates no. And that should trouble us, as it clearly does General Powell.
The other thing I wanted to mention is that it is clear this was a difficult endorsement for General Powell to make. Many Democrats had vague positive feelings towards McCain for awhile, but found them quite easy to discard once we witnessed the campaign 2008 version rear its ugly head. But to many independents and moderate Republicans, John McCain was something of a hero. He was their leading man -- a politician who they thought had integrity and unimpeachable character. General Powell stresses that his endorsement in no way represents a repudiation of Senator McCain. But it is clear he is deeply depressed by the direction Senator McCain has taken his campaign -- lots of clarity on Bill Ayers, very little on the economy. And I have to think that for many moderates, who saw in John McCain the very model of the right kind of politician, this election cycle must have been a painful experience indeed.