I know many Americans consider me a bloated blabbermouth who scorches airwaves with bigoted and polarizing statements. That impression was strengthened a few days ago when, responding to Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, I fired an email declaring I was going to check if Powell had ever backed an inexperienced white liberal. I have decided to forgo that petty effort and instead make a confession: I’m much too attuned to the currents of history to still be unequivocally conservative. I am, most essentially, a front-runner in masquerade. Last year I was bashing John McCain while Colin Powell handed him a maximum donation. Then, as McCain became evermore intolerant and aggressive, I began to embrace him. I did so for my listeners. They are my base, my ego, my fortune. They’re my life, and to satisfy them I’ve insulted Mexicans and blacks and especially liberals with statements from valid to absurd, and I’ve cared not which.
At this pivotal time in our history, however, even the eternally petulant must be resolved to change. By that I do not propose to risk losing the attention I crave more than any opiate. But I do promise to risk changing my constituency. Ronald Reagan did so as did John Connally and Joe Liebermann, moving left to right in pursuit of ideological nourishment. I, clearly, can go no further right without appearing a jackass in jackboots. Let me therefore hasten to pronounce: I contemplate no such shift.
As I today annotate the considered prose from Colin Powell last week, I fear – no, I delight – that I’m having an epiphany. General Powell impresses me with his concern about the growing stridency of the Republican party and demagogues like me. I too am worried about my tone. In solitary hours harsh whispers and echoes pound me like a boxer hit in the head.
In pain I am open to Powell’s assessment that at the onset of financial chaos it was Barack Obama who “displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge.” And it was John McCain who seemed “a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems…”
Yes, General Powell, our Republican comrades have “become narrower and narrower” while Obama is “crossing lines – ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He’s thinking all villages have values…not just small (red) towns…”
You are also correct, Mr. Secretary, there’s nothing bad about being a Muslim in the United States. Why, indeed, can’t a Muslim child strive to someday become president? I was particularly moved by your evocation of an American grave. The dead man had won the Purple Heart and Bronze Star and died at age twenty in Iraq and on his tombstone there shone not a Christian cross or the Star of David but a “crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.”
That is America, the most prolific melting pot in history. It is all of us. We must emphasize that more often. The man who can best inspire us to do so is Barack Obama. For him I shall vote for president.