Colin Powell endorsed Obama this past Sunday. Secretary Powell gave a cogent, reasoned, intelligent rationale for giving the Illinois Senator his support. When asked his reaction to possible criticism that he was endorsing Obama because he was African-American, he wisely and rightly said, that if he was going to do that, he could have endorsed Obama months ago.
Suddenly, Powell's credidibility regarding his support of the Illinois senator, is called into question, because they share the same skin color. Washington Post columnist George Will said Sunday:
"Some impact. And I think this adds to my calculation -- this is very hard to measure -- but it seems to me if we had the tools to measure we'd find that Barack Obama gets two votes because he's black for every one he loses because he's black because so much of this country is so eager, a: to feel good about itself by doing this, but more than that to put 'paid' to the whole Al Sharpton/Jessee Jackson game of political rhetoric."
And Rush Limbaugh vociferously denounced the endorsement as being, '...totally about race...'
Powell, and really the rest of America should demand more from our political gamesmanship than this. Here is the suggestion that a man whose independent frame of mind, leadership and courage has been held up before the country as laudatory - suddenly having his judgement lampooned because he hasn't toed the party line. "The reasoning he provided can't be legitimate! It must be about race!"
It has been forgotten, conveniently, that Powell has been a black Republican for a long time. He could have endorsed Alan Keyes if color was essential to his political considerations. He could have run for the office himself, if he wanted to and crossed that threshold and arguably won.
Powell carried the water for the White House in making the case before the United Nations at the cost of his reputation. Before that, he persevered enduring segregation and bigotry and rose to the ranks of a four star general. He was this nation's first black National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.
It has since been said, that Powell's endorsement was a sign of 'ingratitude' - a term that suggests that as a black man he was, in someway beholden to the white establishment of the Republican party to support McCain, either publicly or silently. No other Republican supporting McCain has publicly been criticized as 'ungrateful'.
The GOP has called itself the party of the 'big tent'. But the son of William F. Buckley received hate mail and his resignation was enthusiastically by the conservative magazine his father founded because he contributed to another blog his endorsement of Barak Obama. According to Will, it must be because Obama is black. And it is being publicly reported that Republicans are 'hoping for' the Bradley Effect - white people who up until time to vote say they will support Obama, but have an attack of racism in the voting booth.
One hundred forty-five years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, 44 years after the passing of the strongest Civil Rights Act in this nations history, 43 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed to protect by Federal Law, the rights of all citizens to vote, the first legitimate citizen of color is a serious candidate for the highest office in the land. While party defections hurt any candidate and his supporters, there is still something to celebrate in the fact that more of the American Dream is becoming a reality.
Instead a citizen of color cannot support that candidate, no matter his accomplishments, without having his character slandered and veracity challenged.
At some point it stops being insulting as an American and it gets to be just plain sad.
Maybe we haven't come so far after all.