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 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.
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.
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.
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.
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad, is a national
columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum
and author of Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom. His Website is AnthonySamad.com. Click
to contact Dr. Samad.