It seems like over the past decade or so, Colin Powell's name has been front and center in the political arena. There were many that felt he should have run for President years ago. He has served as Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as National Security Advisor. His words have always been listened to with great anticipation by many that live here as he has always had a high degree of popularity with the American people.
Listen up everyone - because Colin Powell (the Republican, don't forget) - is telling you something. On Sunday, he formally endorsed Barack Obama. This took place on "Meet The Press" (read the transcript here).
Powell cited Obama's "ability to inspire" and that he is a "transformational figure". He also made note of a troubling trend that we've seen in the past few weeks - that of what I would consider almost religious intolerance:
"... but what members of the [Republican] party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that 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 seven-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 terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
"I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in 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 headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a 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 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions". ("Meet The Press" interview, October 19, 2008)
Remember, this is coming from a retired U.S. general and a Repulican.
Read the transcript - it's very insightful, much as we've come to expect from General Powell.
McCain's response to this? Well, he has the endorsement of four former secretaries of state (neener neener neener can be heard in the background) ... Henry Kissinger (for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, 1973 - 1977), James Baker (for Bush I, 1989 - 1992), [Lawrence] Eagleburger (for Bush I, 1992 - 1993), and Alexander Haig (for Ronald Reagan, 1981 - 1982).
Last I looked, the most recent of those was secretary of state in, ummmmm, 1993 - and yes, by my math, that's 15 years ago. Why does this not surprise me?Only time will tell if the American people were truly listening to Colin Powell. It's but a mere 16 days until voting day. We'll know soon enough.