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Colin Powell Endorses Barack Obama: Summary

An article by Plainsboro.COM owner Kennedy Lemke
October 20, 2008

On Sunday, October 19, 2008 former U.S. Secretary of State General Colin Powell appeared on the Sunday morning political show Meet the Press on NBC, hosted that day by Tom Brokaw.

On the program, Secretary Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president, about two weeks before the 2008 presidential election.

In my view, Secretary Powell was able to put into words many of the thoughts I've had on the candidates for president, and he did so eloquently and somewhat precisely. On this page I will summarize some of the points Powell made about each campaign and will provide quotes from that interview, and a link to the full transcript.

Here are the main points about why Powell is supporting Obama instead of Senator John McCain:

  • Concerns about McCain/Palin:
    • Uncertainty about how to deal with the current economic problems
    • Selection of Governor Sarah Palin as running mate (not ready to be President)
    • Republican Party's approach has become narrow
    • McCain's campaign ads focus on things that are not central issues (e.g. Ayers)
    • Republican Party has shifted further to the right
    • McCain's campaign states falsely that Obama is a Muslim

  • Comments in support of Obama/Biden:
    • Obama displays steadiness, intellectual curiosity and depth of knowledge
    • Pick of Joe Biden as running mate is good (Biden ready to be President)
    • Obama's approach is broader and more inclusive
    • Obama is surrounding himself with people who can give him expertise he needs

In a nutshell, the summary above covers why Colin Powell endorses Obama/Biden instead of McCain/Palin, despite his long history of service to the Republican Party. You can read the several paragraphs upon which the above summary was based here.

Now I'd like to provide some personal observations on the 2008 campaign (I support Barack Obama):

First I want to say that I really like John McCain. I consider him to be a man of distinguished service to his country, a war hero, and a common-sense thinker. Probably more than any other Republican Senator, over the past several years he has made appearances on many late night talk shows that I watch such as The Daily Show and Late Night with David Letterman. All of these appearances have given me an extremely positive view of John McCain, and in all honesty, for the first time since I've been old enough to vote in a presidential election I would be happy with either candidate winning the election.

I recall really becoming aware of Barack Obama some time in late 2005 or early 2006, at which time I spoke to friends about him. I was pleased that he was considering a presidential candidacy. During the primaries, most Democrats probably figured it would be either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama who would win the support of the Democratic party. After watching the first Democrat primary debate I was actually more impressed with Hillary Clinton's performance than with Barack Obama's. However, over time Obama's oratorical skills have improved and along with my other impressions about him, he eventually won my support over Hillary.

I recall thinking at one point what an inspired and smart speaker Obama was. Few politicians have ever evoked that kind of feeling in me. He has been described as "Kennedy-esque" and I agree with that comparison. Barack Obama, in my view, is the John F. Kennedy of my generation, and I believe that he will inspire millions of Americans to once again be proud of their country and work together to make the United States a better place to live for everyone and improve the world view of the United States.

McCain's campaign and the Republican Party, on the other hand, over time have given me more and more reasons not to want to support him:

  • The McCain campaign keeps wanting to label Obama as a Muslim. This bothers me for two reasons: (1) Obama is not a Muslim so the McCain camp is already out and out lying to us; (2) if Obama were indeed a Muslim, SO WHAT? In Secretary Powell's words about this issue: "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." Did the United States suddenly shift it's view of religious freedom from "freedom" to "freedom, but only as long as you're Christian or Jewish"? Of course not; that's absurd.

  • McCain, against much of the rest of Congress supported and continues to support President Bush's stand on the Iraq war "surge". While I'm not qualified to debate this issue particularly (and neither is most of the rest of us in the U.S.), my view is that we need to end the Iraq war as soon as possible and bring our troops home, not send yet more troops in. Withdrawing our troops is not defeat in the war, but victory for the thousands of military families.

  • Disrespecting Obama in the debates: in the first debate, McCain never even glanced at Obama. In the second debate, he referred to the Senator as "that one". How can anyone justify a United States Senator behaving in this fashion in a presidential debate? More than anything else, McCain's disrespect of Obama turned me off to him.

  • McCain's comments of his ability to perform as President. Both candidates rightly so try to present themselves as the best candidate. But some of McCain's statements bothered me: statements like "I know how to find Osama bin Laden" and "I know how to save billions of dollars in defense spending." OK, so why the heck haven't you done so? The Bush administration has had 7 years to find bin Laden. McCain has been in Congress for 26 years. If he's confident in his abilities enough to make such bold statements, why hasn't he already done these things?

  • Negative references to things that don't matter: McCain's camp keeps bringing up Obama's link to Ayers from 30 years ago, and they seem to think they struck some sort of victory with references to how much better life will be for "Joe the Plumber" under a McCain presidency than an Obama presidency. I swear to god if I hear one more reference to either thing I'm going to puke and fedex the results to McCain campaign headquarters.

Now, Obama hasn't been perfect in my opinion either. I'm on his email list, and while it's nice to see comments from his campaign, I get a little tired of every email containing prominent links to making a donation. He's got enough money now: $150 million in September 2008 alone. I didn't make any money donations to his campaign, but when they opened an office in my town, I did donate a case of water and a case of orange juice, which I hope were consumed and appreciated (total value about 17 bucks). And lately Obama has been getting negative in his stump speeches and his commercials. He doesn't need to do this and I wish he'd stop. Instead, go back to inspiring Americans with a vision for the future instead of concentrating on a few negative things about McCain.

That's about it for now; I've said my piece about the upcoming presidential election of 2008. I believe the future of America will be more positive and fruitful under an Obama presidency, so I urge you to consider the points I've made in this article and vote Obama on November 4th. Thanks for taking the time to read this!