Palling around with Powell

Last week, Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of âÄúPallinâÄô around with domestic terrorist,âÄù referring to loose ties Obama had with former antiwar activist and now University of Illinois professor Bill Ayers. This comment would seem just another lowly attempt to rouse fear and loathing, but in all fairness, Mr. Ayers is indeed an unrepentant former domestic terrorist and this association, however slight, should be called into question. The McCain campaign has made this relationship the leading lance in their attack against their democratic opponent, claiming his past associations with Ayers, and other inflammatory figures such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, provides insight into his character and that these affiliations place Obama outside the mainstream of American sentiment. While some may be inclined to believe this argument, it will be much more difficult now in light of whom Obama has been palling around with most recently: the widely admired and nearly universally respected former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell, crossing party and ideological lines, offered his endorsement to Obama this past Sunday on NBCâÄôs âÄúMeet The Press.âÄù âÄúI 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 âĦ as well as his substance âÄî he has both style and substance âÄî he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president,âÄù said Powell in his sweeping endorsement. In the face of vaguely justifiable concerns over ObamaâÄôs past affiliations, and lingering whispers of terrorism ties and anti-Americanism, a more perfect counterbalance could not be found than the endorsement of the former four-star general. For many voters who still have doubts about ObamaâÄôs allegiance, PowellâÄôs endorsement should lend to the Obama campaign a degree of legitimacy in the eyeâÄôs of suspicious conservatives and apprehensive independents. After all, it was only eight years ago that Colin Powell endorsed John McCain in the Republican primaries. Gen. Powell is a principled man, and his remarks indicate that the negativity of the McCain campaign, and its shallow focus on personal relationships, lead him to endorse his opponent. Commenting on the Ayers association he said: âÄúI’ve also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Sen. McCain has taken recently, on his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about âĦThis Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign âĦ trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Sen. Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings.âÄù As Powell so clearly states, the McCain campaign has been attempting to cast fearful doubts about Obama into the electorate. This type of fear mongering may have been slightly successful for the McCain camp, and probably scared away more than a few votes from Obama. But their attempt to associate him with anti-Americanism has drawn the one endorsement that can offer vindication from these charges. Associations do matter in politics. Unfortunately for McCain, Americans can now look to ObamaâÄôs present relationship Powell rather than past ones with people like Ayers. Ross Anderson welcomes comments at [email protected]