Monday, October 20, 2008

Colin Powell is a Stark Contrast with Barack Obama

The buzz around Colin Powell’s expected endorsement of Barack Obama will thrill the Obama camp followers but, at the same time, they’ve got to worry about the contrast between Obama and Powell. So far as I can tell, they have only a single thing in common.

General Colin Powell was an architect of the Gulf Wars and, like McCain, long served his country with selfless patriotism. Obama talks about his “humble origins” and frequently mentions that his mother was on food stamps for a while. But in the Sixties and Seventies, a lot of people were on food stamps, and “living off the fat of the land” was common among middle class hippies and others who felt the collective need of a long break from the nine-to-five work-a-day Johnnie world. Obama’s mother was such a Bohemian, a left-liberal activist, and rebelled against her Midwestern roots.

Colin Powell, on the other hand, grew up poor and ambitious in a New York Borough neighborhood. He took one long look around in his Harlem neighborhood and decided to make something of himself. Here’s what a quick bio from Wiki has to say about him:

Powell was born in Harlem, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan in 1937 to Jamaican immigrant parents and was raised in the South Bronx. He also has Scottish, and other ancestries.[1] Powell attended Morris High School, a former public school in The Bronx, New York City, from which he graduated in 1954. While in school, he worked a local shop where he picked up Yiddish from the shopkeepers and some of the customers. He remembers some of his Yiddish to this day.[2] He gained a bachelor's degree in geology from City College of New York attaining a "C" average, according to his 2006 graduation address at Marymount University. He later obtained an MBA from The George Washington University after his second tour in Vietnam in 1971.

I can understand why Powell would join the 92 percent of African-Americans who supported Obama in the primaries. And I admire the other 8 percent who supported Hillary and who may now support McCain. Both positions reflect courage, given their respective statuses and the incredible political pressures generate by this election campaign.

But the most striking thing about the Colin Powell endorsement is the sharp contrast between men like Powell and McCain who dedicated themselves to America and men like Barack Obama who dedicated themselves to convenient, and ethically suspect (if not outright corrupt), political opportunism. I would worry about that contrast if I were one of the Obamanites.

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