News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Limbaugh: Powell endorsed Obama because of race

Leave it to the hate brigade to see the world in black and white—quite literally.

Following Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh immediately pronounced the decision was based on race. Many of Rush’s fellow travelers soon chimed in. In their minds, the decision was obvious. Both men are black. Therefore, Powell will naturally support Obama.

This assumption begs a question. Why haven’t Condoleezza Rice and  Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas joined this cabal and endorsed Obama? Are they waiting until after the election when President Obama appoints an all-black cabinet? Indeed, if all black public figures march in lockstep, why did Tavis Smiley conduct a public feud with Barack Obama earlier this year after the senator sent a surrogate to the State of the Black Union hosted by Mr. Smiley?

As evidence of their argument, the Limburgers point out that 97% of blacks support Obama for president. So what? The same charges were leveled against John F. Kennedy when Catholics overwhelming supported JFK in 1960. The Rush Limbaughs of that day assured the public that if they elected Kennedy, the Pope would control the White House.    

Fostering a conspiracy theory of black unanimity is bad enough. Attacking the integrity of Colin Powell is even more outrageous.

Suggesting a man like Colin Powell would make his decision based on skin color is a blindness nothing short of bigotry. Throughout his military and political career, Powell has selected men and women for advancement purely on merit. Ask the people who have served with Powell if they feel he has ever shown any racial preference. Even the fact Powell is a black Republican should be a good indication of his impartial judgment. The GOP is hardly a haven for affirmative action.

During his public announcement of Obama’s endorsement, Powell stressed his decision had been difficult. He turned away from his own party’s candidate and explained his reasons in great detail. But Limbaugh and his dittoheads cannot accept the words of a man who has repeatedly proven his honor and integrity. Nope. To them it’s very simple. He’s black. End of story.

Of course, had Powell stuck to the party line and endorsed McCain, would Limbaugh have said it was because both were former military men? I don’t think so. Limbaugh would have lauded Powell as a statesman who simply chose the best candidate.

Limbaugh’s accusation reminds me of a telling moment from this year’s third presidential debate. As McCain continued to pursue Obama’s tenuous connection with one-time radical William Ayers, Obama replied, “Senator, this issue says a lot more about you than it does about me.”

Raul Ramos y Sanchez

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