Colin Powell on His Reasons for Supporting Barack Obama

20 October 2008 · 4 comments

It’s not often I discover something profound on Digg (a social networking site seemingly inhabited by every freshman boy on a college campus in the U.S.), but it does happen. Today somebody quoted a piece of the transcript in which Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the 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.

So, when I look at all of this and I think back to my Army career, we’ve got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities–and we have to take that into account–as well as his substance–he has both style and substance–he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure.

I think both of the Presidential candidates are fine choices, despite the histrionics from either side. It’s these histrionics, which seem to be most pronounced right now from the Republicans, that drive me nuts.

So, it’s refreshing to hear Colin Powell speak evenly about both men, and to offer a reason for supporting Obama that transcends the mudslinging. And it’s refreshing to have found this on Digg!

1 Amanda October 21, 2008 at 06:36

It’s these histrionics, which seem to be most pronounced right now from the Republicans, that drive me nuts.

Isn’t it possible that you see more histrionics from Republicans because that’s what the mainstream media is reporting?

2 jdroth October 21, 2008 at 06:52

Yes, it’s possible, but I’m not one of those who thinks the MSM is biased toward one side. The liberals think the MSM is a tool of the conservatives. The conservatives think it’s a tool of the liberals. Me? I think it’s reasonably balanced, except for certain sources which have obvious and well-known biases.

Also, I base my “histrionics” statement on actually reading liberal and conservative stuff. For example, one glance at Rush Limbaugh’s page is enough to make my head hurt. When McCain’s pick of Palin was announced, there was plenty of the same crazy talk from liberal outlets like Daily Kos, but that has since died down.

It’s possible that the side that’s on the defensive is most likely to be histrionic. I’m not sure. Maybe if Obama were losing, the Democrats would be just as annoying.

The point is: the rank-and-file of both parties have been polarized and intractable lately, and it drives me nuts. What happened to common sense and reason? Why does each side have to be diametrically opposed to the other? It’s baffling.

3 Joel October 21, 2008 at 08:28

It’s difficult for me to dis-believe in the liberal media bias. Many prominent coservative politicians and pundits have taken an explicit and vocal anti-intelligentsia, anti-media, and anti-reading position. It would be very difficult for members of the media to report objectively and dispassionately about a group that is antagonistic toward their mission.

I mainly get my news from NPR, The New Yorker (in which the above photograph appeared), slate.com, and The Daily Show. The liberal bias is palpable.

4 Tiffany October 21, 2008 at 10:40

Does this mean you will be voting?

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