Monday, October 20, 2008

A Four-Star Endorsement That Deserves a Salute

I've gotten much better over the past six months with articulating exactly why I support Barack Obama. (One of the first times I really explained my feelings on the subject was to my family in Malaysia.) I haven't truly put it into words here, and I plan on doing so at some point over the next two weeks.

But today, if I was struggling to detail exactly why I think Obama should be the next President of the United States, I might just play this clip from Colin Powell's appearance on Meet the Press. Gen. Powell voices Obama's appeal perfectly - even better than Andrew Sullivan did at the end of last year, which I wasn't sure was possible.

If you're still trying to decide who to vote for, please watch this. And if this is preaching to the choir, well... what's wrong with a little affirmation? (Especially when it was given on Sunday morning! Can I get an "Amen"?)

It's reassuring to hear a public figure - Democrat or Republican - acknowledge just how divisive the McCain campaign has been with its xenophobic rhetoric, trying to provoke fears of "the other," instead of keeping the discussion civil and issue-driven. (Here is the photo Gen. Powell was referring to, the one that invoked such strong feelings against the polarization that seems to be the current GOP platform.)

I'm also troubled by, not what Sen. McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said, such things as, "Well, you that know Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian.

But the really right answer is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I don't know about you, but I stood up in my living room this morning and clapped when I heard that. It shouldn't be like this in America. We can have disagreements, but there's still far too much fear and hatred in pockets throughout this country, much of it fueled (and provoked) by ignorance. We should be better than that. And we can be. But as Rage Against the Machine once put it (and man, does that name ring true these days), it has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime... what better time than now?

Believe it or not, Powell came out even stronger later on in the day, when he talked to reporters afterwards. He sounds like a man who wonders what the hell happened to his party. And maybe, just maybe, Powell is seeking a bit of redemption after being duped by the Bush administration into selling the Iraq war to the United Nations back in 2003.

Combine Powell's endorsement with news of the Obama campaign raising $150 million (!!) in September and drawing a crowd of 100,000 in St. Louis, and it just hasn't been a very good weekend for the McCain campaign. (Unless you think Gov. Mooseburger did well on SNL.)

Here's the full transcript of Powell's interview with Tom Brokaw.