19 October 2008

a reality check

This morning's political television provided a fitting contrast of the choice this country faces in two weeks time. On Meet the Press, former general and Secretary of State Colin Powell eloquently and wholeheartedly endorsed Barack Obama. In a 7-minute delineation of what led to his decision (which, like the New Yorker's long endorsement from a few weeks back, goes down the list, issue-by-issue, demonstrating how Obama is overwhelmingly the better choice), Powell issued perhaps the most comprehensive and well-spoken endorsement of the candidate to date. And this is no minor development: Powell is a pillar of the Republican Party, and a figure of almost mythic esteem and appeal to independent voters. This will be seen, no doubt, as an attempt by Powell to atone for past misadventures in the Bush administration, most notably the charades that led up to our invasion of Iraq. And while such a redemption cannot happen overnight, this observer sees Powell's endorsement of Obama—undeniably a brave political move—as a step in the right direction. Listen to his words; they are powerful:

It's also worth noting that, as with other conservatives who have become disillusioned with McCain's candidacy, the ultimate dealbreaker for Powell—the last straw that pushed him over the edge—is McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Powell echoes what the majority of the country feels in his judgment that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. The implication, and the reality, is that the selection of Palin, someone utterly unfit for office, thus renders McCain (who chose her) equally unfit. If things go our way, this fact will no doubt dominate the "why McCain lost" election post-mortems.

Meanwhile, over on Fox, after casually dismissing the Powell endorsement (Surely, McCain must realize its import? Maybe not), McCain was grilled by Chris Wallace on the flood of "robo-calls" that has been unleashed in the battleground states in the past week:

The stark contrast of McCain's delusion with Powell's nuance speaks for itself.

I agree with Josh Marshall's assessment that the McCain/Palin/Republican strategy from here on out will be a last-ditch, desperate attempt to tie Obama through innuendo to the (implicit) twin evils of blackness and Islamic terrorism. And while the media and Obama partisans may be tempted to brush such a strategy off as desperation, we dismiss it as such at our own risk. Not-so-distant history teaches us that such tactics, unfortunately, work; and as I've written before, the very chance that the agents of this intolerance could possibly emerge victorious in two weeks time make the stakes that much higher.

Disregard the polls. They are a meager attempt to quantify the unmeasurable, and I fear that this election will be shockingly close. So, I urge you, all of you who are on the side of decency and justice and virtue and common-sense and, yes, hope: with 16 days left in this epic election season, go out and do something to help make sure that in three weeks time, we won't be once again looking back, saying "What did we do wrong?" If nothing else — come November 5th, should Obama lose this election, I don't want to be able to say I didn't do anything about it. Make phone calls, and go to a battleground state. And if you can't do that, then contribute. Put your money where your mouth is; it's a worthy investment.

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