Watchdog Blog

Mary C. Curtis: The Powell Endorsement

Posted at 2:58 pm, October 21st, 2008
Mary Curtis Mug

So sad, and so predictable.

Retired general Colin Powell makes a detailed and reasoned case for his support of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. He praises his friend John McCain, but laments the direction of the Republican Party, the negative tone of its campaign and the readiness of Sarah Palin.

The Republican military man, former Secretary of State under President Bush, has in the past donated to McCain’s campaign. But after much thought, Powell said it was Obama who is offering a “calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach” to the nation’s problems.

And the verdict from Rush Limbaugh?

Endorsing while black, of course.

He’s not kidding.

So while no one in his right mind would accuse Joe Lieberman or Henry Kissinger or the generals and admirals voting GOP of endorsing John McCain because “white people stick together,” it’s acceptable to say Powell is aligning himself with Obama because of race solidarity.

We’ve been hearing this theory all along.

African-American voters – who’ve been voting overwhelmingly Democratic for years – are told they are backing Barack Obama because he’s black.

“You may say it’s his health care plan, but we (meaning people who disagree with your choice) know better.”

Even Powell, a man who has served his country with distinction, is subject to a racial litmus test. He decides to support Obama, so he flunks. Never mind the list of reasons he ticked off – calmly and methodically on “Meet the Press.” Apparently he can’t speak for himself, but Pat Buchanan can?

This judgment condescends to Colin Powell, infantilizes him and makes him acceptable only when he goes along. Well, he tried that as President Bush’s Secretary of State, and we see how that worked out.

I wonder why Powell bothered to explain his choice.

Why talk about the handling of the economy and the demonization of Muslims by the GOP?

Why not pump a black power fist and be done with it?

This is so infuriating on so many levels. When someone announces, as a prominent GOP attorney in Maine did, that “if Obama was a white man, Powell would not have made the endorsement,” he’s saying that he knows what’s inside the man’s head better than the man himself.

As an African American, this insult hits close to home.

Pundits and pollsters measure the Catholic vote, those who grew up working class. And while I’m all those things, I know they don’t mean me. In America, I don’t get an adjective. I only get to be black.

White, in all these metrics, is not a race. It’s the norm.

So when individuals as diverse in their lives and experiences as Colin Powell and Barack Obama come together on issues of policy and principle, it’s no surprise that to some, this proves what they’ve thought all along: Race is the only thing that matters.

What it proves to me is that it’s not Powell who’s obsessed with race.

One Response to “The Powell Endorsement”

  1. Susan Kidder says:

    No actually, the “they” here probably believes that you are handicapped by two “transcendent” affiliations – race and gender.

    Remember, women were all supposed to vote for Hillary, rather than Barack, given that we are … as Samantha Dee phrased it … vagina Americans.

    It’s so silly, trivial, shallow, and insulting. I believe that I can support feminism by supporting someone who is committed to Social Justice. And I can support the “oh please can we finally do this” evolution of this nation beyond racism by supporting someone who is committed to a “post racial” mind-set. Both of which make supporting Barack Obama the proverbial “no brainer.” And the fact that he’s married to his equal who simply “Rocks,” is the icing on the cake.

    I think it’s time for those of us in this country who are actually grown-ups, to stop listening to those who spout non-sense and think like angry children.

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