Closing remarks

Yeah, I finally watched Barack Obama’s half-hour message, online. It’s an excellent wrap-up to a too-long campaign and it hit all the right notes for me, anyway. Some of it is production values, of course, but there were genuinely affecting passages, especially when Obama tied his own story to the particular issues he addressed, as with education or health care. Folks have compared him to John F. Kennedy quite a bit, but I think actually the better parallel is with Abraham Lincoln – a man who essentially came from nowhere by dint of study, ambition, and genuine vision. He’ll have a lot to live up to if he wins – but I’ll be proud to punch my ballot for Barack Obama.

Postscript: What if, instead of public financing, we just gave every candidate a half-hour block of TV time to use as he or she would in the week before Election Day? This long form emphasizes, if anything, the sheer volume of substantive policy proposals that make up Obama’s platform – and might point up a candidate who didn’t have anything substantive to say.

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Powell endorses Obama, defends Muslims

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell officially endorsed Barack Obama for President on Meet the Press this morning. But, incredibly, that’s not the most important thing he had to say in the interview. Referring to the Republican whisper campaign that claims Obama is a crypto-Muslim, Powell said (around 4:38 in this video):

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 is 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? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop this suggestion, “He’s a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorism.” This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

Powell puts his finger on the ugly nature of the Muslim Obama rumors, which has bothered me basically from the first time I heard it, but hasn’t been much discussed in any major media outlet: why should it make a difference if Barack Obama is Muslim? As long as he’s an American citizen, his religion shouldn’t matter in a run for the Presidency. On the Media only picked it up last week – though once they did, they dissect the issue with the acumen you’d expect. More even then the endorsement, which is a big deal, I hope Powell’s MTP appearance starts a conversation about this.

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Mennonites = Obama-friendly

… If they’re young and college-educated, anyway. The Chicago Tribune has a pretty good piece on the political leanings of Goshen College students, which mainly focuses on increasing Mennonite willingness to participate in politics at all, but also addresses Goshenites’ preference for Barack Obama.

I think there’s an actual trend here. In the last primaries in states with historical Mennonite population centers, Indiana and Pennsylvania, Obama lost everywhere but big cities — and the Mennonite-heavy counties. Seriously. Check out the county-by-county results for Indiana, and Pennsylvania – both Elkhart County, Indiana (home to Goshen College) and good ol’ Lancaster County are in the Obama column.

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My fellow Pennsylvanians: Why?

Hillary Clinton won the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, to no one’s great surprise. She took most of the state, except for the Philadelphia area (heavily African-American = Obama-friendly), counties associated with Penn State (academics = Obama-friendly), and Lancaster County (Mennonites = Obama-friendly?). Now, it’s up to Indiana and North Carolina to put this campaign out of our misery.

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