Roger L. Simon

Powell's Obama Endorsement: the religious factor

Oh, those proverbial elephants in the room! I caught Colin Powell’s predicted (by Drudge) endorsement of Obama on Meet the Press today and there were few surprises.  Powell, ever the Lord of Gravitas, paid lip service to McCain being a good president, then, with furrowed brow, cited the conventional wisdom – that McCain demonstrated inconstancy during the economic crises, that the choice of Palin was ill considered and the relationship to Ayers overstated.  While I have disagreements, these are, as a I said, conventional points.

But then Powell raised the ante.  Citing unnamed Republican party leaders (not McCain), he said these leaders made allegations to him that Obama was a Muslim and therefore a “terrorist”.  Really?  I would like to hear the names of those “leaders.”  Sure, there are plenty of extremists on the Internet and elsewhere bantering around stuff like that (just as there are liberal-left extremists spewing nonsense about McCain), but genuine party leaders?  Would Powell please name one?  If not, this seems like a political smear. Why would Powell feel he needed to make it?

Meanwhile, Obama’s real, quite verifiable and public religious background (and mentor) was not even mentioned by the Secretary of State – namely, the execrable Reverend Wright.  That is far more disconcerting than some vague Muslim association (whether by birth or otherwise) and indicates a lack of judgment on Obama’s part that any person of gravitas (like a Colin Powell) should find difficult, almost impossible, to defend.   Yet the racist Wright, we all know, was Obama’s chosen minister for twenty years, married him, baptized his children, gave him spiritual guidance and provided the inspiration for his memoirs – even the title of the second one. It’s hard to imagine a closer relationship with a pastor, except perhaps a spousal one.

Again, as I said, Powell ignored this, although Obama’s initial reluctance to separate himself from Wright was evident to the entire world – not to mention the candidate’s bizarre assertion that he had not until then realized the reverend’s extreme views.  It was at that point many of us knew that Obama was not, to use Powell’s words, “a transformational figure,” unless by transformational you meant dishonest.