I left my house on Sunday morning at 8:30am and made the hour long drive from my hometown of Holly Springs to Fayetteville – the site of a Barack Obama campaign event. I hadn’t been to a presidential rally since 1992, when, my high school marching band was asked to perform at a George Bush rally at a local community college. (I was living in New Jersey at the time.)
By the time I got to the arena in Fayetteville, there were already thousands of people waiting in line anxious to get inside to see Mr. Obama. Fayetteville is a big military town here in North Carolina, home to the Army’s Fort Bragg.
As I took my place in line and waited, several campaign volunteers were working the line announcing that General Colin Powell had just endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press. The news natuarally spawned a raucous celebratory response from the predominantly African-American crowd – most of whom I suspect were locals that had some tie to the military.
After Obama came on stage to the delight of more than 10,000 supporters, he opened his remarks by thanking Gen. Powell for his endorsement. Later on in the speech, he addressed John McCain’s “socialism” attack by asking how Warren Buffet and now Colin Powell could endorse him if he were really a socialist.
With Sarah Palin running around saying which parts of the country are pro-America and which are not; with John McCain offering up his own socialist proposals to spend $300 million to buy up every bad mortgage in America; with all of these nasty robocalls coming out of the McCain campaign – this has to be Obama’s best defense against these charges.
Gen. Powell is a wise and respected person. I have great empathy for him as one who was truly blindsided by the Bush-Cheney regime. As Secretary of State, Powell was the unfortunate soul who had to go in front of the United Nations and sell the Iraq war based on misguided information. I think that Powell’s endorsement of Obama, while, sincere and based on true feelings as to who would be the best president, also is meant to serve as payback to the current administration and its party.
Throwing out terms like “socialist” is dangerous because people automatically assume that you are referring to the lowest, detestable forms of communism. Canada, for example, has a socialist health care system, but you are not seeing calls to boycott Molson beer in this country. Now, I am not using this example to defend socialism – I am merely pointing out that the attacks by the McCain campaign are being done to sitr up fear for the wrong reasons. Before Obama made his way to the arena in Fayetteville, he stopped at a local eatery. One woman, when she saw Mr. Obama come through the door yelled “Socialist! Socialist! Get out of here!” Thankfully, many other diners yelled back at the woman. Obama himself tried to make peace with the woman, but she refused to even shake his hand. The ironic thing about it, is, and I’m just making an assumption here given the demographics, is that she probably makes less than $250,000 a year, and would most likely see a BIGGER TAX CUT under Obama.
So back to Powell. Gen. Powell had refused to endorse either candidate – even though he has a pretty close relationship with John McCain that spans over 25 years. Instead, Powell chose to watch how the campaigns played out; watch the debates; and get a sense of who had the best plans to take America forward. As one of this country’s most respected statesmen, whose career work has been protecting America’s security, would he have endorsed Obama if he thought his plans were socialist – ESPECIALLY since he is a member of the REPUBLICAN PARTY?
It will take a few days to determine the effect of Powell’s endorsement. Most endorsements usually don’t sway undecided voters all that much, but I think this case might be an exception because you have a well respected military leader willing to support the guy from the other party despite the fact that he has more in common with the candidate from his own party. On Fox News, McCain said he wasn’t surprised by the endorsement. I believe him. I think if McCain loses, he will look back at this election, and see this as a symbol of what went wrong. These baseless attacks have not registered with voters, and now, with Gen. Powell’s endorsement, they are not working on the truly intelligent wing of the Republican Party either.