Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Corrections and outrages

Ok, so remember that time I mentioned that Barack Obama had been endorsed by former secretaries of state Kissinger, Eagleburger, Haig and Baker? Turns out I got that one exactly wrong. Oops. I still love the name Eagleburger, though.

Distressingly but utterly unsurprisingly, the endorsement I did get right -- Powell's -- has excited a response from the wingnut right dubbing him "Benedict Powell," and accusing him of endorsing Obama based solely on the consideration of race. A cartoon by Gordon Campbell (not the premier of BC, another one) recreates the famous image of Benedict Arnold, except in blackface and with the caption "Benedict Powell: Race Patriot."

Rush Limbaugh said, "Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed." (As George Zornick retorts to that, "Powell usually only endorses inexperienced, very conservative, white candidates. He even works for them!") And a pair of particularly idiotic talk-radio wingnuts maintain that Powell is endorsing Obama because "he's tired of being called an 'oreo' ... he wants to be black again ..."

Again, this is hardly surprising, but it is still infuriating. I have little doubt that Colin Powell, like most African-Americans, is heartened by the prospect of a black president. The very fact of Obama's nomination is a seismic event in the history of race in America -- and for what it's worth, there are vast numbers of white people, yours truly included, who feel the same way.

But to suggest that someone like Powell, whose entire career has been marked by thoughtful and cautious deliberation, was moved to this endorsement solely on the basis of skin colour is simply ludicrous.

On the other hand, one of the more entertaining aspects of this campaign, especially since the economic crisis has made people more inclined to look for leadership and substance rather than ad hominem attacks and trivia, has been watching the Rush Limbaughs of the world flail with increasing impotence. Four years ago, watching with increasingy disbelief as Bush's victory mounted, I wondered just what it would take for the U.S. elctorate to come to its senses. I guess we're seeing the answer to that question now.

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