Over the weekend, former Secretary of State and Join Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president on Meet the Press. That wasn't exactly a huge surprise, but it was nice nonetheless. More important was his dressing down of John McCain for trying to do the right thing with a confused supporter and still managing to bungle it.
Remember a couple of weeks ago when a woman at a McCain rally confessed that she couldn't trust Obama because he was an Arab?
McCain passed his wireless microphone to one woman who said, 'I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not, he's not uh — he's an Arab. He's not — ' before McCain retook the microphone and replied:At the time I didn't see anybody really pick up on this, but Powell did on Sunday:
'No, ma'am. He's a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign's all about. He's not [an Arab].'
I'm also troubled by, not what Sen. McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said such things as: 'Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well, the correct answer is: he is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian.As noted political thinker Ben Afleck put it on Bill Maher's show last Friday, if the woman had said she couldn't trust someone because he was a Jew, the answer of "no, he's not a Jew, he's a good family man" would bring a lot of heat on McCain. I'm not sure if the general pass he got on this one it due more to the fact that at least he actually did try and tame the rabid portion of his base or nobody thinks there was a problem in the first place.
But the really right answer is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is: No, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she can be President?
Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion: he's a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
Indeed, the whole "Obama's a Muslim" meme is well and truly enmeshed in the debate. At our monthly autocross yesterday, we had a couple newbies join us, with cars covered in McCain/anti-Obama stickers. I ended up in the grid line behind one guy's car with a "Nobama" sticker, modeled on this Obama bumper sticker.
I've seen the "Nobama" idea before - thought it was a clever twist on the guy's name. What it took me a while to notice yesterday, while I waited to attack the course, was that the stylized "O" image on the left of the sticker had been morphed into a blue crescent and star. Of course, the crescent and star is a well recognized symbol of Islam. So, even a clever little word joke gets bogged down in the "Obama is a Muslim" bullshit.
The good news, it appears, is that the whole scare mongering thing isn't working this time. Or voters are just, rightfully, scared of what four more years of the same old stuff will bring us.