I respect Colin Powell. And I also have significant political differences with him. Such is still possible in our current political climate. The fact that someone does not subscribe to your brand of politics or worldview does not preclude them from the ranks of the respected and respectable. Too many forget this.
That said, Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president seems founded upon some rather troubling issues, and his argument is as much if not more couched in dislike or distaste for the McCain campaign than subscription to Obama’s positions, proposals and views.
Powell also said he was “troubled” by Republican personal attacks on Obama, especially false intimations that Obama was Muslim and Republicans’ recent focus on Obama’s alleged connections to William Ayers, the founder of the radical ’60 Weather Underground.
Stressing that Obama was a lifelong Christian, Powell denounced Republican tactics that he said were insulting not only to to Obama but also to Muslims.
“The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society.
“I look at these kind of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me,” Powell said. “Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower.”
What Powell said is that it’s not the McCain campaign has said that Obama is a Muslim, but that it “allows” others within the party to say so. I am at a loss as to how the McCain campaign or the Republican Party can disallow others to say such stupid things as ‘Obama is a Muslim.’ And Powell is right to challenge, “So what if he is?” Yet, many would love the discussion to include aspects of Senator Obama’s Christianity, such as his 20 years as a member of the Chicago church led for years by Jeremiah Wright. That is the discussion of Mr. Obama’s religion that the campaign and the Republican Party has not “allowed.”
To be sure, if we care to take a walk down the road of discourse that either of the campaigns allow or disallow from the populace, we need step no further than the Missouri ‘Truth Squad’ or the more recent drubbing of ‘Joe the Plumber.’ The Obama campaign has shown no sign of ‘not allowing’ these ‘political silence through personal punishment’ campaigns.
Powell also dismisses as irrelevant Obama’s long time links to William Ayers, which he brushes aside as seemingly brief chance acquaintances. To be sure, John McCain did himself few favors by referring to the domestic terrorist as “washed up” and “irrelevant,” both of which Powell uses to buttress his admonition of the McCain campaign’s challenge for disclosure of Senator Obama’s relationship to Ayers, which is more than an acquaintance. How is this relationship, one which changes in its description by Barack Obama himself as the challenge continues, out of bounds for discussion?
Conservatives will and do have myriad other objections to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Senator Obama for President of the United States, including his stated preference to have Obama appoint two liberal Supreme Court Justices rather than two more conservative Justices appointed by a President McCain. And those arguments – both for and against – are legitimate political debate.
But the above two cited reasons as given by Colin Powell for not supporting McCain and Republicans in deference to Senator Obama and Democrats are reasons lacking logic, not reasons of political discourse.
UPDATE: See also: Michelle Malkin – The Colin Powell endorsement: Triumph of hope over reality