“It’s because he’s black.”
That is such an easy – and weak – answer to give when it comes to former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president.
Radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh made it clear that’s what he thinks; Pat Buchanan, who would a leader of the White Citizens Council if this was the 1950s, said as much; and even conservative columnist George Will tried to pin that on Powell.
All are wrong.
But what is so fascinating to watch these GOP-lovin folks, and the others who blindly follow their every word, is that they have lavished Powell with effusive praise for years because they saw him as race neutral!
Powell, and his successor as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, have been portrayed as their kind of Republicans because theuy aren’t seen as black. They sort of occupy the rareified space reserved by whites for Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey – African Americans who are seen as having no color (well, maybe not Oprah, who has been tagged for being a traitor for supporting Obama. Why, they say? Because he’s black!).
Their reaction to Powell’s endorsement is the reality of being black in America: if you do everything the way the Limbaughs, Buchanans and Wills want, you’re perfectly acceptable in their world. But the moment you actually use that clear and independent mind they said they love to support the person that you think is right for the job, then it’s because they are black.
I know the feeling. I get the emails from white viewers who question my skills, integrity and credibility by assigning race as the sole reason I’m on CNN. Forget the fact that I’ve put 17 years into this job.
Powell is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; national security adviser; and has served on the ground with our troops. He has served directly with four presidents and knows presidential timber when he sees it.
To Limbaugh, Will and Buchanan, put your fake race analysis away and give this accomplished man his due. He made a thoughtful, careful and meticulous decision over the course of several months, and gave one of the most compelling endorsements I have ever seen. He used his intellect and knowledge of the office and tried to convey that to the nation.
Powell wasn’t a black man supporting Obama. He is an American hero who has always, and will continue, to put country first.
And for him, Obama is the choice