However, the messages coming across on a few political message boards to which I belong told a different story; a few examples (with the names removed to protect their privacy):
- "I'm sorry, I don't get it, never have. Powell took credit for Schwartzkopf's [sic] achievements in Desert Storm, then used it to push his career as a politician. Norman, on the other hand, retired and quietly lives in Florida. Powell has done nothing to deserve being anyone's hero. He wasn't a soldier. He was a paper pushing bureaucrat and a politician."
- "Colin Powell got us into the war in Iraq under false pretenses (and fake Anthrax)... Should we trust him now with his latest "flimsy" endorsement of Barack Obama?"
- "I was heartbroken to hear this. Just heartbroken. He was one of my heros [sic]. I had tremendous respect for him and thought he was a great example to all."
- "Here, after so many years we learned to treat every person as human without color or religion preferences, and out come in someone who was self proclaimed republican uttering such nonsense, and only reinforce the old bias against the black race. What a shame!"
1. Powell was and is, first and foremost, a soldier. When he retired from the military, he didn't actively seek any political or bureaucratic job; he was asked by several different presidents to serve, and being the good soldier he did what he felt was his duty. And by declining the opportunity he had to run for president in 1996, he pretty much killed any pretense that he was a politician.
2. Setting aside the argument about Powell's role in the leadup to the war in Iraq, I don't think his argument for Obama was flimsy. As with everything he's done in his life, it was a rational and well thought-out explanation. Good soldiers, especially those who make four-star rank, never do anything flimsily.
3. Was one of your heroes? Every hero I can think of has some sort of flaw; for a lot of folks during the past few days, it is that Powell went across party lines to endorse Obama. But is the fact that you disagree with one decision in a 71-year life enough reason to completely dismiss the high regard in which you held him in previous years?
4. I am so tired of race being an issue in this campaign. Support Obama or McCain, it's a race issue; oppose Obama or McCain, and it's a race issue. For me, the argument has no merit; yes, there are many voters for whom race is a significant issue, but to try and focus so much time on something that to me is a poor excuse for opposing a candidate is ridiculous. During his "Meet the Press" interview, Powell even went so far as to say up front that he wasn't going to support McCain because they were friends, and he wasn't going to support Obama because he was black. It's sad that here we are in the 21st century and a man's word can't be taken anymore. And I can hear the folks now, saying, "Well, if he hadn't lied at the UN, maybe we'd believe him now."
In the long run, I don't think this endorsement is going to sway many voters one way or another, being instead just a feather of support in Obama's cap. People just need to accept it and move on, and focus on issues that ultimately will make a difference in the final 15 days of this race.