Powell Talks to Dowd About Obama Endorsement, New Yorker Photo

dowd102208 Powell Talks to Dowd About Obama Endorsement, New Yorker PhotoThere are no jokes in Maureen Dowd’s New York Times column this morning. There is no Latin (or pseudo-Latin like quid profiterole), no dialogue or out-sourcing or a single reference to Barney’s.

Today, Ms. Dowd set aside her Pulitzer-winning bells and whistles to talk to former Secretary of State Colin Powell about his endorsement of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama:

[W]hat sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.

Mr. Powell told Ms. Dowd, "I stared at it for an hour… Who could debate that this kid lying in Arlington with Christian and Jewish and nondenominational buddies was not a fine American?"

No one would really dare make the point that a Muslim or Arab can’t be a fine American, right? Well, no one besides Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who told an audience in Minnesota in early October that Senator Obama is not an Arab, but rather, "He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not." You can see a video here. (And let’s not even bring up the strange matter of Senator McCain’s campaign aide Daniel Zubairi—a proud Muslim who has spoken out against campaign supporters’ intolerance and for the Republican candidate and his running mate—yet was yanked from a CNN appearance, which according to The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein "mystified" CNN’s Rick Sanchez.)

After telling a bit more about Mr. Rashad, who wanted to enlist since he was 14-years-old and whose father told a reporter, "He looked at it that he’s American and he has a job to do," Ms. Dowd writes that Mr. Powell received an email blast "from a man wanting to spread the word that Obama was reading a book about the end of America written by a fellow Muslim."

That book? The Post-American World by Newsweek International editor and columnist, Fareed Zakaria, a man whose name was once bandied about as a possible Secretary of State and who told The Village Voice‘s Joy Press in 2005, "I occasionally find myself reluctant to be pulled into a world that’s not mine, in the sense that I’m not a religious guy."

As Maureeen Dowd might say in a more playful column, Mr. Zakaria is like Michael Corleone in Godfather III: Every time he thinks he’s out, they keep pulling him back in.