Today Colin Powell stepped across party lines and endorsed Barack Obama for President. As part of his endorsement, he strongly criticized the tactics of the McCain/Palin campaign, particularly with regard to their current effort to paint Barack Obama as a terrorist.
One of the tactics that Powell strongly objected to was the current spate of robocalls being used by the McCain campaign to stir up fear and hate among the base. Here’s the text. I won’t post the audio here because it is visceral and hateful:
Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202-863-8500.
Josh Marshall summed the McCain campaign up this way:
Stripped down to its components McCain’s message to voters is this: “Don’t forget. He’s definitely black. And he may be a terrorist.” That’s the message.
In light of these hateful tactics, I found it useful to go back to Barack Obama’s historic speech on race, delivered 3/18/2008 to see what he predicted. As usual, he was remarkably prescient:
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
After acknowledging the anger of blacks and whites, he calls us to move beyond the old racial wounds:
This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
He even has ideas for how to do it:
It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
The McCain campaign wants us to believe that Barack Obama is a scary black guy who will wreck the country. They need to leave this impression because they hope beyond all logic to erase the truth: The last 8 years have wrecked this country more than any of us could have imagined, and John McCain stood right next to George Bush and the Republicans while the wrecking ball slammed into the walls of our banks, insurance companies, Wall Street, social institutions, FEMA, New Orleans, Iraq and the national budget (not to mention the national debt).
We have a choice. Obama knew we had a choice back in March, when he said this:
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.”
Colin Powell understands this. He spoke out so forcefully about what President Palin, the RNC and John McCain are doing with their robocalls, their mailers and their ads as his way of saying NOT THIS TIME.
When Gen. Powell spoke of Barack Obama as a transcendent and transformational leader, who represented generational change, he made a choice to put his country first, to move us toward a more perfect union.
That’s the same choice we all have on November 4th. We can get stuck in all of the distractions that make absolutely no difference to our wallets, or our kids, or our health, or we can stand up and say “not this time”. This time we’re choosing to push past the fears and the wedges, the division and the hate, and say:
Not this time. Say it with me. Stand up. Make your voice heard; say that it’s time to reconcile, to put our country first, ahead of our fears, ahead of ourselves.
Not. this. time.
VOTE. Fight for change.
Seein’ as how you’re so religious and all, Gov. Palin, I thought you might want to hear what the Word has to say about your recent behavior:
24 A malicious man disguises himself with his lips,
but in his heart he harbors deceit.
25 Though his speech is charming, do not believe him,
for seven abominations fill his heart.
26 His malice may be concealed by deception,
but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
Now…I know it says “man”. But it applies to women too. And it even applies to mavericky straight-talkin’ wolf-shootin’ witch-chasin’ women like you. Cuz after all, Gov. Palin, if you’re such a straight-talker and all, you should know better than to tell lies like you’ve been telling.
But you know you can tell lies and get away with it, don’t you? That’s the fault of the ignorant, booing, cheerleading pompom-wearing idiots who like their facts covered in a big pile of bullshit tailor made for their appetites.
What you and your war-hero-turned-dishonorable-demagogue running mate need to know is this: When you incite threats, hate and violence by telling lies, God doesn’t like it. He’s not inclined to be on your side.
When you and your hate-mongering dishonorable running-mate say things like this:
“This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America,” she told the Clearwater crowd. “I’m afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.”
…you expose your wickedness in the assembly.
God’s got some stuff to say to you, but I doubt you’re listening, Governor Palin. So my friends and I are going to say it instead, as plainly and straight-talky as we possibly can. Only, we have the sense to leave the hate speech at the door.
Here’s what my Twitter friend Zik says:
When you drive a crowd into a racist froth, and incite them to want to kill the next president you don’t get to seperate yourself from them.
That’s right, gun totin’ gal. You don’t. And let’s be clear — you and your dishonorable running-mate associate yourself with some of the most destructive domestic terrorists of our time. Not just associate — SUPPORT.
That’s right, Governor Palin. Your running-mate voted to PROTECT domestic terrorists.
Let’s be clear on where I stand on this:
When you and your dishonorable running-mate look the other way when death threats, slander and hate speech are shouted out at your rallies, it is the same as doing it yourself. There is no difference.
when you and your dishonorable running-mate choose to tell outright lies about Senator Obama in an effort to stir up hate and fanatical nationalism, it is the same as if you had done it yourself. There is no difference.
When you and your dishonorable running-mate make sly racial references intended to send a dog whistle to the hate groups in this country that you are willing to be as racist as they, you ARE as racist as they. There is no difference.
IF you and your dishonorable running-mate succeed in whipping the frenzy to such a state that violence is threatened or carried out against Senator Obama or anyone associated with his campaign, volunteer or paid…
I will. not. rest. until I have done everything in my power to make sure you have no power ever again. Or that anyone associated with you has any power ever again. I will not rest until I have found a way to reach as many churches as I can and convince them to denounce your unpatriotic, dangerous and violent acts of treason on our country with your lies, malice and ‘abominations’. I will spend every last dollar I have making sure that the truth comes out about you and your dishonorable and dishonored running-mate.
Those things I will do because I’m human. God, on the other hand, may hold you accountable. You have one option to mitigate that.
Turn away, confess how wrong you are, and…
Make it right.
Otherwise, you’re accountable and responsible, and I will exercise my right as a citizen of this country to hold you responsible.
This is some really incredible video, especially the first couple of minutes, where Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO confronts those who “won’t vote Obama because he makes them uncomfortable…” Trumka puts the name to it, calls it out, and calls on the AFL-CIO to get over it, reminding them that unions have long struggled with the efforts of management to turn them on each other over race.
Best quote: Those of us who know can’t afford to sit and look the other way while it’s happening…
H/T Andrew Sullivan
I think he’s exactly right. I’ve confronted this attitude too, the attitude of unconfessed racism disguised as undecidedness. I think it is time to call it what it is and put the record straight. It might not change any minds, but I think it’s wrong to allow people to hide behind their civilized masks and claiming to be honest when it’s clear that the issue is race. Let’s bring it into the light and move past it.
As much as I don’t want to keep talking about Senator Clinton, I feel compelled to say something about this. There are so many things that Harriet Christian said that came straight out of the Clinton campaign that are just plain wrong…I don’t even know where to begin.
I would like to suggest to women who are supporters of Hillary Clinton that being associated with this sort of thinking does nothing to advance the cause for women to be recognized as equals in all areas of life, including politics. This woman doesn’t think the Supreme Court nominations are important. Is that because she thinks it’s only a Roe v. Wade issue? When she starts rattling off the campaign talking points, I can’t help but think that SHE’s the one who’s not thinking.
And the worst is when she says that 99.9% of the black folks voting for Obama are only doing it because he’s black, while at the same time clearly stating that her unwavering support for Clinton comes from the fact that she’s female! Of course, the contention about black voters’ motivations is patently false, just a similar assertion about women would be. It’s as racist and sexist as any other blanket statement made during this campaign.
The reason I’m posting it or even giving it the time of day is because this is an opportunity for Senator Clinton to lead, to command that respect she claimed she wanted on Tuesday night. Her campaign suspension is being very carefully orchestrated to keep a far distance from Barack Obama, despite her behind-the-scenes appearance of support via conference calls and the like. However, if she does not stand up and say out loud that the nomination was NOT stolen, that any of her supporters who choose to support John McCain are turning their backs on HER, then whatever she says and does will be empty and her scorched-earth strategy is set in motion.
She must say these things, not because she will convince Harriet Christian and those who think like Harriet Christian. She must say these things because it’s her DUTY to lead. That’s what being a President is about. LEADING. That means pushing ahead through disappointment to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.
People vote for candidates for all kinds of reasons, but the main one should be policy, not identity-based. Because Obama and Clinton were so close together policy-wise, any rejections should be considered to be an identity rejection first and foremost, particularly when rejecting Obama, who has demonstrated clearly that he is ready to lead, that he has run a clean, above-board campaign where he attacked no one, and where she spent months pulling him down by labeling him an elitist, out of touch, and inexperienced.
Leadership is needed, Senator Clinton. You need to step up and tell folks that things are said in campaigns like this. You need to appear on the same stage with him, and you need to do it with sincerity in your heart. Sooner is better than later. Thank you.
Her inexperience argument is a canard that should die a rapid death. Senator Obama has demonstrated his ability to mount a strong and effective campaign while not abandoning his core principles of transparency and staying focused on the issues. He has demonstrated fiscal responsibility and an ability to reach out and build a strong coalition of support around the core principles guiding the Democratic party.
Make no mistake, the nominating process and campaign is a strong indicator of where the general election will go. Let’s call the church crap a draw, given that McCain’s got Hagee and Parsley repudiations under his belt. Barack Obama will end the primary season with millions in the bank, a nice nest egg for the general election, and a strong, empowered, grass-roots base to build his general election campaign.
ANY argument which suggests that Hillary Clinton is more capable than Barack Obama to be President of this country is based on intellectual dishonesty. Let’s talk about leadership in that context.
Leadership has more than one element. It is first, and foremost, the ability to exercise good personal judgment. Second, the ability to communicate a direction in a way that attracts people to your cause; and third, the ability to move that cause forward steadily and with purpose.
Just in the context of today’s RBC meeting, let’s look at leadership. The Obama campaign asked its followers to refrain from any demonstration or en masse appearance in Washington DC today, choosing instead to focus on their 50 state voter registration drive, intended to shore up the Democratic voter base in all 50 states. His supporters are just as passionate as Hillary Clinton’s, trust me. They could have appeared in front of that hotel with their own signs, but they DID NOT, choosing instead to follow the request of Obama and work on calling voters, registering new voters, and working on other aspects of the campaign.
Clinton’s supporters, on the other hand, disrupted the meeting (particularly the afternoon sessions), called for more division by stirring her Florida supporters with comparisons to the 2000 election, the civil rights movement, the suggestion that the compromise reached treats Florida voters as less than slaves (who received 3/5ths of a vote), aligned with slanderous and discredited characters for the sake of attention, and consistently continue to whine that the failure of her candidacy is somehow related to sexism, misogyny and unfair treatment.
The video linked above and the one embedded below are examples. Both are pathetic. I would never, ever in a hundred years do this. It’s a disgrace to Hillary Clinton. It’s a disgrace to every hard-working woman who manages to find their place in life as a self-actualized human being. As the daughter of an abusive father, I know what it feels like to be controlled by men. I also know it’s possible to be a woman in a man’s world without turning into a hater. This supporter’s hysteria and irrationality undermines Clinton’s legitimate, strong, hard-fought candidacy. I don’t hold her responsible for what one supporter says, but let’s be honest — when Clinton surrogate Geraldine Ferraro attributes her current position to nothing more than sexism, she undermines all of us who chose NOT to vote for Clinton because we did not recognize her as a strong, unifying leader. My impression of Clinton has been that she is a divider, not a uniter, and that has been obvious as the primary season has progressed. I’m a woman! I’m not anti-woman, nor do I feel bound by my physiology to vote for one candidate over another.
If Barack Obama loses in November (and the only way I see that happening is if the party is so hopelessly divided that it simply disintegrates), Hillary Clinton will lose the opportunity to advance her own agenda for women’s rights, reproductive rights, ending the war, and health care. She will have far more influence with a Barack Obama presidency than she would with a John McCain presidency.
If her motives are what she says — party unity and advancing an agenda of social reform — then it’s in her best interests to throw her support wholeheartedly behind Obama and lead her supporters to do the same. If her interests are purely self-serving, she should continue to encourage horrible behavior and paint herself as a victim. And a loser.
Clinton has the power to decide what she wants to do. Let’s hope she does it, and demonstrates leadership that is effective, outspoken and works to defeat the Republicans in November.
Let’s call it what it was in Kentucky and West Virginia. Race-based. Listen to the reporter in the middle of this video talk about how the educated Kentuckians have never once said it’s about race. Well, of course they haven’t! If they can rely on a different, more nuanced but still bogus line of reasoning like “lack of experience”, they don’t have to look at the real root of their dislike, right?
This wasn’t reported widely here in the US. Why was that? For fear of offending…who? Or was it fear of affirming?
I have more respect for the few folks who just admitted what it was, instead of hiding behind the “just don’t wanna” facade.
h/t Andrew Sullivan