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Colin Powell on Meet the Press

The image of Colin Powell that I have had seared in my mind for the past several years is that of him at the UN, his voice and body exuding apprehension. He was not confident about his recommendation to go to war with Iraq in 2002, and in his decision, I lost confidence in him.

Six years later, again from my living room couch, I was watching Powell declaring his recommendation for another critical decision that will dictate the fate of the country and world.

But this time everything about Powell was different. His eyes looked kind, his body language confident, his tone was relaxed the way people’s voices are when they have the true freedom to speak from the heart.

One could look at Powell, the way I do, and see someone who has exercised extremely bad judgment with fatal consequences. He not only endorsed Bush and Cheney in 2000, but actively fought for their election. His recommendations helped this country invade Iraq under the false charge that the country was harboring weapons of mass destruction. Powell now admits that he was wrong in these historic and consequential recommendations of his past.

But this morning I watched a different Colin Powell on Meet the Press. He was someone explaining a decision he’s made from his own mind and heart, rather from informants or political motivations made me feel hope that perhaps some progress has been made in the past eight years.

Not until this morning have I heard a better argument for why Obama should be president, and this coming from a lifelong Republican, a former member of Bush’s cabinet and a good friend of John McCain.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has left many American hands bloody, and few more than those who were behind the decision, like Powell. Yet this morning, Powell infused the current political discourse with some truth and wisdom that is essential in helping the country and the world heal from the tragedy of this war.

Colin Powell on Meet the Press [www.youtube.com]:

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? We have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way.

Considering that a president could bring this photo [www.newyorker.com] from the margin into the center of the conversation about America brings me hope.

–Jamie Wong