Former President Barack Obama was one of many public figures — elected, appointed and otherwise — to speak highly today of the impact that retired Gen. Colin Powell had on their lives.
I read a statement from President Obama today after Powell’s death. One item in the statement stood out. It dealt with Gen. Powell’s endorsement of Obama’s presidential candidacy in 2008. Powell, a lifelong Republican, decided to endorse Obama because, I suppose in Powell’s view, that Obama was the best man for the job at the time.
Obama said this about Gen. Powell’s endorsement, which included a discussion about rumors at the time dealing with the presidential candidate’s faith: “The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian,” General Powell said. “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?”
What the former president didn’t include in that remembrance is that the U.S. Constitution specifically declares that there shall be “no religious test” for anyone who seeks public office in this country. That includes presidents.
Powell’s point, though, in endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for the presidency, is that there should be no constraint on any child, regardless of his or her faith, to seek the highest office in the land.