Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama today was so measured, so diplomatic, so graceful that I hope it gets played on many blogs and gets seen by Americans - and the rest of the world - over and over again. It is a beautiful example of what Peggy Noonan has labeled "patriotic grace."
Without ever insulting John McCain, a man for whom General Powell obviously has a great deal of respect and admiration, he managed to make a strong and stirring endorsement of Senator Obama. I am sure that General Powell has seen a great deal in the Republican Party during this election cycle that has disappointed him deeply. Yet with great dignity he stayed on the high road and spoke about what he admired in John McCain and gave well thought out reasons why at this juncture in history he is endorsing Barack Obama instead.
I'll let the video speak for itself.
This is what political involvment at its best looks like. This is what patriotism looks like. And I'm sure this is why most of us got involved to start with. But somewhere along the way our idealism got replaced with ideology and the desire to win at all costs. I think that is true of both sides. General Colin Powell's endorsement is a call to get back to what is the best in us regardless of party affiliation or ideological belief. It's a call to concentrate on what unites us rather than what divides us.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't have spirited debates on policy or that we should shrink from airing honest differences. But where did the basic respect go? There once was the concept of "the loyal opposition" which is very different from the hated enemy. We need to get back to that basic if we want to keep a democracy.