In what was the most sought after, important, and most anticipated endorsement of this entire election year, Gen. Colin Powell today announced that he intends to vote for Sen. Barack Obama for President of the United states.
It's not as though Powell is your average politician. He is a veteran of a 35 year military career in which he rose to the rank of General, National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan, Commander in Chief of the Army, promoted to a four-star General by George H.W. Bush, and the youngest ever to achieve the highest position in the Department of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was appointed Secretary of State by George W. Bush, who later used, abused, and permanently stained his well-deserved reputation by trotting him out before the U.N. with dubious or outright false information to make their pitch for perhaps the worst foreign policy decision in our history.
Powell's endorsement carries the gravitas and seriousness that will undoubtedly go far in reassuring many people who may have been hesitant or unsure of Obama's suitableness for the office.
His endorsement also goes far in exploding the truly despicable and increasingly desperate "fear and smear" attempts by the Republicans to blatantly lie to and mislead the people they profess to care about with their ludicrous attempts to paint Obama as anti-American. This is so clearly harmful to our country in so many ways that it can no longer be excused by the fact it's being done on behalf of a political candidate.
The Republicans should be, and are being, held to account for it and repudiated at every chance. It's truly not Obama who's concern for the well-being of the country should be legitimately questioned, but McCain's.
Powell makes a very powerful statement against the anti-Muslim bigotry and fear-mongering openly displayed by the Republican party and the McCain campaign, a message long overdue and powerfully stated.
The following is a transcript of the portion of Powell's remarks in which he endorses Sen. Obama, taken immediately following their broadcast on "Meet the Press".
This "speech", if you will, should go a long way towards rehabilitating the sterling credibility and reputation of Powell before it was willfully and cynically squandered by Bush & Co.
Meet the Press
October 19th, 2008BROKAW:
General Powell, last year you gave a campaign contribution to Sen. McCain, you have met twice at least with Barack Obama, are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates that you're prepared to support?POWELL:
Yes, but let me lead into it this way.
I know both of these individuals very well now. I've known John for 25 years, as your set-up said, and I've gotten to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past two years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good president.
I have said to Mr. McCain that I admire all he has done. I have some concerns about the direction that the (Republican) party has taken in recent years. It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that's the choice the party makes.
And I've said to Mr. Obama, you have pass the test of do you have enough experience, and do you bring the judgement to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president.
And I have watched them over the past two years, frankly, and I've had this conversation with them.
I have especially watched over the last six or seven weeks as both of them have really taken a final exam with respect to this economic crisis that we are in, and coming out of the conventions. And I must say that I've gotten a good measure of both.
In the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure
as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day there was a different approach to the problem, and that concerned me. I got the sense that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.
And I was also concerned at the selection of Gov. Palin. She's a very distinguished woman and she's to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgement that Sen. McCain made.
On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama, and I watched him during this seven week period. And he displayed a steadiness and intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge, and an approach to looking at problems like this, and picking a Vice President that I think is
ready to be Vice President on day one. And also in not just jumping in and changing every day, but showing intellectual vigor. I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.
I also believe that on the Republican side over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican party and Sen. McCain have become narrower and narrower.
Mr. Obama at the same time has given us a more inclusive, broader reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He's crossing lines. Ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He's thinking about ALL
villages have values, all towns have values, not just "small towns" have values.
And I've also been disappointed frankly by some of the approaches that Sen. McCain has taken recently, or his campaign has, on issues that are not really central to the issues that the American people are worried about.
This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks
, became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a "washed up terrorist" - then why do we keep talking about it?
And why do we have these robo-calls going on around the country, trying to suggest that, because of this very
, very limited that Sen. Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, that somehow Mr. Obama is tainted.
What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist
feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.
No I know understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for.
And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me. And the (Republican) party has moved even further to the right, and Gov. Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration.
I'm also troubled by, not what Sen. McCain says, but 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 that 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 is 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 (Republican) party drop this suggestion, that he's a Muslim and he might be associated with 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 were 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 a Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.
And his name was Kareem Mushad 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 could 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 non-discriminatory as anyone I know, but I'm troubled
about the fact that within
the (Republican) 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 who best 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. He is a new generation coming on to the world stage, on to the American stage, and for that reason, I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.
By stating his beliefs, Powell has ensured that the Republicans will instantly transform him from hero of the Bush administration, American military patriot, and icon of supposed Republican "inclusiveness", to nothing more than just another black guy, someone who favors Obama simply because of his race. From hero to zero. And they'll do it with a straight, if snarling, face.
In fact, that's probably the reason Powell recognizes how we simply can't stand more of their style of reckless rigidly ideological, and harmful, fundamentalism across the board.
Brokaw realized that the Republicans would predictably try to ascribe Powell's endorsement to his race, to which Powell responded that if it was only a matter of race, he could have made this endorsement several months ago, but he chose to observe the candidates and weigh his choice and only arrived at his decision a month ago.
Brokaw lied and repeated the Republican talking point that Bill Ayers had said in a book published on 9-11 that he regretted that he "didn't bomb more".
Brokaw should know better, and he's obviously just as uninformed as many people on this.
They try to make it sound as though, immediately after the attack on 9-11, this guy Ayers had come out and said he wished he had "bombed more".
Wow. That makes a nice story. Makes the guy sound absolutely soulless and like a monster.
But it's a total fabrication and designed to deceive.
Ayers had written a book, and indeed, it came out the very day of the 9-11 attacks.
In an interview about the book published on 9-11 in the NYT, Ayers is quoted as saying, "I don't regret setting bombs," Bill Ayers said. "I feel we didn't do enough." Ayers has since said that he was not referring to doing more bombing, but simply that they didn't achieve their goals and therefore he wishes they'd done more to bring about an end to the Vietnam war, bring about social justice, etc.
It's only the Republicans, and now Brokaw and the others who repeat it, that have conveniently bastardized the quote and his stated meaning into Ayers saying he wished he had "bombed more".
(As an aside, Ayer's father was chief executive officer of Commonwealth Edison of Chicago and chairman of Northwestern University and of the Chicago Symphony. Not exactly middle class. His father was also a leader in race relations and was picked to serve as a mediator between Mayor Richard Daley and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966 when King marched in Cicero, Ill., to protest housing segregation.)
I'm not so sure you can safely assume that Ayers meant her regretted not doing more bombing. And the attempt to tie Ayers to 9-11 simply because an interview happened to be published on that date is obviously stupid and deceptive. It would only take a moment's thought to realize that anything said in an interview published on 9-11 was obviously said BEFORE the attack occur ed. But here again, truth and the McCain campaign only have a glancing relationship.
Powell responded to the continuation of this non-sense by stating that what Ayers did 40 years ago was "despicable", but when on to say that still talking about it today is likewise despicable and nothing but demagoguery.
Powell said he didn't intend to campaign for Obama, and when asked whether he'd like a position in an Obama administration, said he didn't have any desire to return to government service, but of course he would listen to the President were he to request his services, but left it clear that he would prefer not to be asked.
It should come as no surprise that this decorated public servent who has served with such distinction at many of the highest positions in the military and government would realize that Americans have a clear choice this time around, and the choice is equally clear as to who represents the direction forward, and who represents more of the same failed way of thinking and way of approaching the world.