Colin Powell's endorsement on "Meet the Press" Sunday of Obama is quite noteworthy. Powell, in his usual thoughtful way, made a number of points leading up to his announcement, and gave a numbers of reasons afterwards. Here are some that struck me.
1. He stressed that he has been a life-long Republican, and has known and admired McCain for 25 years. He mentioned the "narrowing" of the Republican base, and this reminded me so much of the famous comment by Jim Jeffords when he switched parties. Jeffords said, "I didn't leave the party; the party left me." Though he didn't use these words, Powell referred to the capture of the party by the extreme right-wing reactionaries, and how McCain was allowing that capture to take place instead of putting his own imprint on the party.
2. He expressed concern about Sarah Palin, and was clear that he felt she was *not* competent to become President if something should happen to McCain.
3. He said how impressed he was at the way Obama was reaching out to all kinds of people, crossing ethnic, gender, and other lines that often divide us. He said Obama had the potential to be a "transformative" figure, transforming U.S. politics and restoring our image in the world abroad.
4. He referred to Obama's intellect, and how he was able to understand complex issues.
5. He expressed his disappointment at the negative tone of McCain's campaign in recent months, and specifcally mentioned Bill Ayers and said the connection between Ayers and Obama was very tenuous, and that McCain was wrong for making this an issue.
6. Along those same lines, he expressed disdain for the false information circulating that Obama is a Muslim. He said the right answer to that is that Obama has always been a Christian. However, he said the "real answer" is, "so what?". He said we have always been a pluralistic society, and he told of seeing a Muslim mother grieving over the loss of her son who had served in Iraq and died there. Being a Muslim should not disqualify anybody from office, or from being considered a fully patriotic American.
Powell said he has served in various capacities for over 40 years, and does not desire another position in the new government, regardless of who is elected in 2 weeks. If he holds to this, the country will be the poorer for it.