Powell Backs Obama; Raises Right’s Ire

He may have worked for President Bush and has been friends with John McCain for over two decades, but Colin Powell lent his weight to Barack Obama this weekend, a move that’s garnering him plenty of criticism from the right.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet The Press yesterday, General Powell expressed his concern of McCain’s economic ignorance and ever-changing, negative campaign direction before diving into full blown Obama adoration. Describing the Democrat as a “transformational figure,” Powell went on to laud the Senator’s “steadiness,” “intellectual vigor” and “inclusiveness.”

Taken together, these characteristics make Obama the best choice for the presidency, said Powell:

…We’ve got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities–and we have to take that into account–as well as his substance–he has both style and substance–he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president. I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world–onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I’ll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.

Despite his support, Powell said he will not be campaigning for the Democratic candidate.

As news spread around the world, Powell suddenly – although not surprisingly – found himself assailed by a wide variety of inane – and insane – insults. Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh sent out an email yesterday in which he attacked Powell’s claim that he didn’t pick Obama simply because he’s black. Wrote Limbaugh: “”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. I’ll let you know what I come up with.” Limbaugh also painted Powell’s endorsement as a betrayal of Presidents Reagan and Bush, both of whom helped Powell rise in the army ranks: “I guess he also regrets Reagan and Bush making him a four-star [general] and secretary of state and appointing his son to head the FCC. Yes, let’s hear it for transformational figures.”

Meanwhile, Maine-based Republican activist Dan Billings also latched onto the “racist” angle and asserted “If Obama was a white man, Powell would not have made the endorsement.”

Here’s video of Powell’s remarks: