Gen. Powell gave a number of reasons.
I'm going to draw attention to a teeny little bit, an almost inconsequential bit, sandwiched in between much else that Gen. Powell had to say:
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?Gen. Powell nailed it, and did what Sen. McCain has been unable to do: distinguish the correct answer from the really right answer.
['Meet the Press' transcript for Oct. 19, 2008]
I alluded to this previously, noting that Sen. McCain's robocalls may contain narrowly "truthful" claims... but are NOT "honest"... and that Sen. McCain seems unable to distinguish between these two concepts.
Gen. Powell's "really right" answer to the supposed Muslim slur is perfect. What if Obama were Muslim? So what???
Recall - just a few days ago, Senators McCain and Obama appeared at a charity dinner in honor of Alfred E. Smith - the first Catholic to run for President. Al Smith's Catholicism was an issue, and contributed to his defeat at the polls. Similarly, John Kennedy's Catholicism was an issue which he confronted directly in his Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a speech that has become a model of modern political rhetoric.
When will it be okay for an American Muslim to run for President?
I note that Gen. Powell's inclusive vision of America is far-removed from what the McCain campaign in particular, and the Republican Party in general seem to espouse... and that Gen. Powell's inclusive vision is much more in line with what the Framers had in mind:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."Stop the madness!
[U.S. Constitution, Article VI]