Election 2008, Part 4 of 8: Transcendiery
General Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama...See results without voting
Transcript of Colin Powell's endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama's 2008 quest of the Presidency of the United States
Q: MEET THE PRESS -
Mr. Powell, you have met twice at least with Barack Obama. Are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates you are prepared to support?
A: COLIN POWELL -
"Yes, but let me lead into it this way. I know both of these individuals very well now.
"I've known John (McCain) 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, 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 Party has taken in recent years. It has moved more to the Right than I would like to see it, but that's a choice the Party makes.
"And I've said to Mr. Obama, 'You have to pass the test of, Do you have enough experience? Do you bring the judgment to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president?'
"And I've 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're having. And almost every day there was a different approach to the problem and that concerned me. It's sensing that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.
"And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She's a very distinguished woman and she is 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 judgment that Senator McCain made. On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama and I watched him during this seven-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge, and an approach to looking at problems like this, picking a Vice President that I think is ready to be President on Day One.
"And also in - not just in 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 Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower.
"Mr. Obama, at the same time, has given us a more conclusive, more 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 Senator McCain has taken recently - or his campaign has - on issues that are not really central to the problems 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 watchdog of terrorists. Then why do we keep talking about him?
"And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country, trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, 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. Now I 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 Party has moved even further to the Right. And Governor 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 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; has 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 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 twenty 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 Karim Rashad Sultan Kahn. And he was an American.
"He was born in New Jersey, he was fourteen 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 ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as non-discriminatory 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.
"He is a new generation coming into the ... onto the world stage and on the American stage and for that reason, I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama."
Follow ELECTION 2008 through the journalistic musings of social commentator R. Martin Basso, moderate conservative.
- Part I- Election 2008:
- Part II- Election 2008:
- Part III- Election 2008:
- Part IV- Election 2008:
- Part V- Election 2008:
- Part VI- Election 2008: DISENFRANCHISED CONSERVATIVES & PARTISAN STONEWALLERS
- Part VII- Election 2008:
- Part VIII- Election 2008:
Political cartooning turns to fiery "propaganda art" as the 2008 political race heats up
Basso Archive: Election 2008
The candidate who transcends race relations receives an endorsement that transcends contemporary politics... Thus, the 'transcendiery candidate'.
When retired general, former Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff, and our current sitting President's previous Secretary of State Colin Powell last week placed his political endorsement for Presidency of the United States behind Democrat Barack Obama, conservatives on both sides of the socio-political landscape, from grassroots ‘Jesus-Is-My-Co-Pilot' fundamentalists to mainstream ‘left-of-center' conservative moderates, sat up and took notice. It was an endorsement that could not be ignored, nor regarded lightly.
In fact, regardless of anyone's political ideology, Colin Powel's long-awaited political identity in election 2008 was an event unto itself that, simply, transcended political, and racial boundaries.
The term ‘hero' is used in far too loose a fashion, and this is no exception: Powell is no ‘hero.'
However, Powell is as close as any single person can come, to being almost by point-counterpoint definition, a true American patriot.
Born in Harlem, in 1937, Colin Luther Powell, Legion of Merit recipient, personal friend and advisor to Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and most recently, George W. Bush, is an American patriot with impeccable credentials and career milestones unilaterally conceded as nothing short of stellar. Yet, for the most part, and as a soldier true and true, Powell has never outwardly betrayed his own personal political leanings throughout the majority of his long and steadfast career.
In fact, Powell has maintained himself as a registered ‘Independent' throughout practically all political seasons, with only occasional ‘labeling' to any conscious political party. Only twice in his career did Powell ever provide any indication of any political affiliation whatsoever: First, in 1964 while openly supporting the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Lyndon Johnson, and then again in 1995 when he announce that he'd recently registered as ‘Republican'. Powell candidly quipped in a subsequent interview "I only registered as a republican."
One year later, while addressing the Republican National Convention, Powell received the riotous applause normally reserved only for rock stars while a transfixed nation, regardless of personal political affiliation, watched the veteran war leader of poignant and cautious words, effortlessly trade service revolver for the seasoned diplomatic diatribe of a soldier turned statesman.
That was it: One place in the spotlight of center stage was all it took.
Colin Powell walked onto that stage as America's highest-ranking ‘Negro Soldier' (the stigmatic perception he would forever seek to quash) ultimately and exited the stage as a ‘race-less', colorless, true American patriot, void of anything other than a fervent love of these United States of America. Colin Luther Powell transcended race and would spend his subsequent years keeping at bay the salivating political wolves that fervently pursued his candidacy for President of the United States.
"I am not willing to put my family through what a run for our Nation's highest elected office would surely entail... Not at this time." Powell stated, repeatedly, whenever pressed to the wall about whether or not he would personally seek the Nation's highest office.
And with that, the proverbial dangling carrot would dangle to conservatives and liberals alike for political seasons and years to follow. Always in the back of their minds would be Powell's suggestive afterthought and, what exactly, he meant by it: "...Not at this time..."
Those words would echo for years and haunt both the political left and the political right, each of whom fervently desired to claim Powell as "their own."
But Powell's endorsement last week was different.
As a general political rule, the voting populace doesn't give a collective rat's ass about who endorses who come election time. But this was the proverbial exception to that rule. Colin Powell was that Holy Grail, often spoken about yet rarely attained, that each political affiliation coveted so earnestly and diligently.
Currently, each political junket understands the potential ramifications that a Powell endorsement would bring: A steak into the heart of the opposing candidate on these final fortnight's of 2008's historic election days.
Receiving, or more poignantly not receiving, an endorsement such as Powell's was on par with a condemned man not receiving his final meal before execution; essentially, what else would there be to be done? Nothing at all; appealing or complaining was futile because the future is actually the past. We can try, we can hope to change the future but in the end nothing matters and the past is, essentially, pointless.
In these waning days, not receiving an endorsement like that of Colin Powell's is on par with Christ passing the body of bread around at the Last Supper and then getting to dining attendee #14 and saying "oh, so sorry... No more... Not for YOU at least... Go figure"
As such, the same is true in politics: The past is pointless.
It's as simple as that.
Ironically enough, the McCain/Palin camp already had an interview speech on Powell's non-endorsement of McCain prepared and pre-rehearsed prior to being wheeled-out on national television in a supposed ‘interview -format' with John playing down the former Secretary of State's eloquent sidelining of McCain.
Instead, McCain and Palin should have worked on their concession speech, because what the two delivered looked like a befuddled Saturday Night Live skit, or perhaps more aptly, ‘crazy old Grandpa' and ‘Peg' from "King of the Hill" ranting fervently about anti-Americanism and dual-party paranoia.
Powell's endorsement of Obama was yet another strategically placed exclamation point in Barack Obama's 2008 quest for the White House. By seemingly exponential bounds the Obama juggernaut, in its blunt cross-boundarism and flagrant redefinition of once-hallowed political boundaries, is redefining American politics.
Indeed, there is so much political cross-over and bleed through, that any sideline observer could conclude nothing other than the obvious fact that the United States of America is ushering in the relatively freshman 21st Century amidst true and absolute change.
So now we are a Nation on the cusp of change...
Election 2008 will mean either one of two groundbreaking transitions for our beloved Nation's political identity: Either a Black Man will be President, or a woman will be Vice-President.
These are the two undisputed facts that are to begin America's transition into a Brave New Country.
As citizens of the leading free world Nation, we are morally bound in civic duty to not just vote through rote mechanics but, truly, to seize and TAKE OWNERSHIP of the place our ancestors have earned for us in the right to secure our national identity through our People's unified collective voice.
Today and right now, my friends, is the tomorrow that we stumbled through only yesterday; and what a difference a day can make.
Just as Colin Powell made compelling and intelligent, linear conclusions about endorsing a sophomore Illinois senator, who, oh yeah, happens to be a Black American, for the Presidency of the United States ahead of his 25 year close and personal friend, John McCain, Powell based his decision upon the simple and basic truth as a Nation moving forward in our past successes, we hold certain truths to be self-evident, and that, likewise, all men are created equal.
Change is needed because the status quo that brought us from yesterday to today no longer works. We are now amidst change, my friends, and this change will be monumental, poignant and irreversible.
As the eloquent retired General noted: "Barack Obama is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world, ushering America onto the World stage."
Poignant. Eloquent. True.
Everything that has preceded us, as individuals, as families, as citizens, as townships, as cities, as states all are colliding together at this point to deliver us from ‘way back then' to ‘way up now.' All that has come previously will be cohesively gelled together to be the unification propelling our Nation into a new political dawning.
All that has proceeded will be the writings in history books, just as today - these important days in this important and relevant time in our Nation's history - are themselves predisposed as ciphers in history's annals of tomorrow.
Barack Obama is more than transformational; Obama transcends race relations, politics and the status quo of stagnation.
We are indeed a Nation in the midst of transition, growing exponentially by leaps and bounds. Sometimes the greatest leap an individual, or a Nation for that matter can make, is a leap of faith.
Barack Obama is truly, a transcendiery candidate.
God bless these United States of America.
© 2008 - R. MARTIN BASSO
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