It’s About Time Someone Said This

Powell From the Meet the Press transcript with Colin Powell, 10/19/08:

I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, “Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.” Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian.  He’s always been a Christian.  But the really right answer is, what if he is?  Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.  Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?  Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine.  It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave.  And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone.  And it gave his awards–Purple Heart, Bronze Star–showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death.  He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.  And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey.  He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Hey Richard Norton Smith, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself

0104_historians_bh Richard N. Smith admitted today, in an interview on C-SPAN that he has not voted in the last two presidential elections.  Smith was interviewed by Brian Lamb along with Douglas Brinkley to put the ’08 Campaign in historical perspective.  So, why does Smith not vote?  He prefaced his comments by saying, “I think it is important not to lie to people.”  Smith believes that it would compromise his position as historical adviser for PBS’s Newshour campaign coverage, which he has done for the last eight years. Smith said something to the effect that he felt conflicted between having to answer questions about his personal political views and his role as historical adviser for PBS.  Apparently his political-historical commentary is somehow rendered more legitimate because Smith does not vote.  Can someone please tell me how such a position trumps your civic duty to vote at a time when we are lucky to get 52% of eligible voters to the polls?  C’mon..the guy writes presidential biographies for crying out loud.

On This Day…

Obama_Hope Yesterday Barack Obama became the first African-American to be nominated for President of the United States by one of the two major political parties. 

It's a milestone in the history of the United States that all Americans can take pride in, regardless of political affiliation.

I don't mind admitting that I am one of those "believers" in Obama.  It feels good to be excited once again and even hopeful about public service.  The last eight years have left me disillusioned and cynical about the presidency, which is just a bit dangerous for a high school history teacher who hopes to draw students to a rich and mature understanding of citizenship. 

The recent political ads from the McCain camp no doubt point to the dangers of reducing a public official to an ideal that appeals to our emotions rather than reason.  One has to wonder, however, whether such ads would be aired if the Republicans had fronted a more charismatic and engaging candidate.  In other words, the excitement that many feel for Obama can also be used to highlight how little fervor there is for McCain.