Friday, June 13, 2008

Colin Powell on Obama and Voting While Black

What does former Republican secretary of state Colin Powell think of presidential candidate Barack Obama? At a speaking event recently in Vancouver, he said he has not decided for whom he will vote, but he would not vote for Obama because he and the senator share the same skin color:

"I will vote for the individual I think that brings the best set of tools to the problems of 21st-century America and the 21st-century world regardless of party, regardless of anything else other than the most qualified candidate," Mr. Powell said ...

"Both of them certainly have the qualifications to be the president of the United States, but both of them cannot be," he said. (

So, Powell will not be one of the people saying Obama doesn't have enough experience. I missed the news about connections between Powell and Obama and had been wondering what the General thought of the young one for a while. However, I didn't take time to look it up and spotted the headline about Powell's opinion of Obama at HuffPo, which led me to the article at Globe and Mail.

I recall seeing a television interview with Powell and his wife, Alma, in the 90s when people were hoping he'd run for President, but I don't remember which show. I do, however, remember that Mrs. Powell said she feared for his life and didn't want him to run. She said he'd done enough for his country and she wanted him safe.

Michelle Obama has had similar fears for Barack Obama's safety, as would be expected. I've read before that they've addressed this fear together, and I got the impression that they've concluded eventually some black person must be the first black President of the United States. Whoever that is can't let fear stop him/her. A president can't walk in fear constantly.

“It’s not something that I’m spending time thinking about day to day,” said Mr. Obama, who has been given the Secret Service nickname Renegade, a way for agents to quickly identify him. “I made a decision to get into this race. I think anybody who decides to run for president recognizes that there are some risks involved, just like there are risks in anything.”

Not long ago, his advisers worried that some black voters might not support his candidacy out of a fierce desire to protect him. It was a particular concern in South Carolina, but Mr. Obama said he believed the worry was also rooted in “a fear of failure.” (New York Times)
Fear of his failure is something that other African-Americans have expressed to me, especially older African-Americans. I think it's because we know what a field day some in the media have when a black public official falls on his face, and we know racist will generalize and declare black people simply shouldn't be in office. There's also this idea that a disproportionate number of black politicians are on the take compared to white politicians, although there's no way to conclusively prove or disprove this. If people are watching you more carefully than they watch others, eventually they spot a fault.

And these are the stereotypes and fears Senator Joe Biden fomented with his inappropriate remark that Obama is "clean." Rush Limbaugh jumped all over that as did others. Biden said the comment was taken out of context, and Obama played it cool in response.

I've also spoken to black people who said they were afraid to root for Obama because they feared for his safety, which is why I think folks who joke about him coming to harm, as did Fox News Contributor Liz Trotta, are akin to terrorist. They're terrorizing Americans when they joke they hope Obama's "knocked off."

Trotta apologized, as though that makes it all better, but Lisa Vasquez at Black Women, Blow the Trumpet thinks more needs to be done about Trotta. She and others, such as Black Women Vote, readers at The Daily Kos, and Media Outrage, wanted Trotta fired. People signed a petition to sack the Fox News contributor. This one at Care2 has 14,147 signatures, and the post received 101 diggs at Her apology didn't seem to soothe people much, but I don't know that she's in any danger of being fired because of the comment. The furor died a few days after her on-air apology.

Trotta's apology wasn't enough for me, but you know, it's Fox News, and they really don't care what non-conservatives want, which sort of makes you wonder why their pundits continue to claim their news coverage is balanced. Considering that that the Obama's baby mama insult made it to the air as well as the dap equals terrorist jab nonsense I doubt that Fox News cares what happens to the Obama family at all.

They call themselves journalists, but I guess FOX News can't be as fair and objective as Colin Powell.

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