Take a look at this endorsement of Obama this morning by Colin Powell, President Bush's former Secretary of State, of all people! I was stunned, not just by the endorsement, but by some of the specifics of why he endorsed Obama--take a listen:
The video puts it pretty clearly, but to emphasize some of the points, here are a few lines from a Washington Post blog on the endorsement:
"Former Secretary of State Colin Powell crossed party lines this morning to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president, the most prominent GOP defection yet of the 2008 campaign.
Obama has courted Republicans all along, but in Powell he gets party crossover plus military credibility. Powell is a retired U.S. Army general and served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush.
As Secretary of State under the current President Bush, Powell helped to build the case for the Iraq war, a role that hurt him with many Democrats and moderates, who had viewed him as somewhat apolitical...
Powell said he had watched both Obama and Sen. John McCain in the last 'six or seven weeks,' since the national political conventions, and paid special attention to how they reacted to the nation's worsening economic situation.
'I must say, he seemed a little unsure about how to approach the problem,' Powell said of McCain.
'He didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems we have.'
Powell also expressed concerns about McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. 'I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of vice president,' Powell said, adding that it raised 'some questions in my mind' about McCain's judgment...
The retired general said that 'John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know' but he expressed serious concerns about his campaign's, and the Republican Party's recent focus on Obama's past association with William Ayers and robocalls the campaign has placed in battleground states this past week.
'I think this goes too far. I think it's made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me. The party has moved further to the right,' he said...
He said: 'I strongly believe that at this point in America's history, we need a president that will not just continue basically the policies we have been following in recent years. I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change.'
Powell spent several moments discussing the false rumors that Obama is a Muslim, saying he was upset he had even heard the rumors from senior Republicans.
'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' he asked. 'The answer is no.' "
That last point is one I had been waiting to hear from somebody throughout the last year and a half or so, because so blatantly behind every question of whether Obama is a Muslim, is that pernicious idea that there would be a problem with a Muslim running for president. Powell's description of this was profound though, leading up to it as he did by describing a Muslim-American who was so moved by Sept.11, at age 14, that he eventually went on to serve and die for the US in Iraq. Powell also made such an important, related point about how a Muslim kid should be able to look at the highest office of our land and know that it is possible for him/her to aspire to that position.
Update: Here's the picture Powell refers to in his endorsement, from a photography slide show on Iraq from The New Yorker: