Editorial: Race should not play role in election

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

In the irony of all ironies, George W. Bush and the Republican Party may have had a hand in Barack Obama becoming the Democratic candidate for president and possibly the 44th president of the United States of America. Before we are accused of catapulting any partisan boulders, it should be stated that we mean this in a way that you might not expect, as it has absolutely nothing to do with any shortcomings of the Bush administration.

In recent days it seems as though race has become a more prominent topic in conversations about this year's presidential election, and there have even been a few comparisons made between Obama and Jackie Robinson. However, it might be more appropriate to compare President Bush with Nick Mileti and Phil Seghi, and not just because W. is a former baseball club owner.

Just as Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and others helped pave the way for integration in Major League Baseball, so too has Barack Obama had a few people clearing the road for him. Their names are former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, who served as national security adviser on the same cabinet as Powell and then later assumed Powell's secretary of state position. 

The importance of this is that next to the appointment of vice president, the secretary of state is the highest appointment that a president can make, as evidenced by the presidential line of succession specified by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 that indicates in the case of the most dire of emergencies the line would look like this: 1) Vice president and president of the Senate, Dick Cheney, 2) Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, 3) President pro tempore of the Senate, Robert Byrd,  and 4) Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Baseball owners did not move as quickly as they should have in integrating baseball. While Robinson and Doby joined the majors in 1947, Major League Baseball would not have a black manager for 28 more years, when Frank Robinson was hired by Cleveland Indians owner Nick Mileti and general manager Phil Seghi to manage the team in 1975. Unlike former Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey, who in 1947 approached Jackie Robinson about becoming a member of the Dodgers, Mileti and Seghi are not members of baseball's Hall of Fame. In fact, quite the contrary, they are known for how poorly they ran the MLB franchise in Cleveland, and therein lies the comparison to George W. Bush. While President Bush will never be listed up there with our best commanders in chief, he should be remembered (as Mileti and Seghi) as one who appointed the best people without regard for their race.

To find evidence of the importance of the Powell and Rice appointments, one need not look any further than to one of our country¹s biggest news stories over the past week and then ask yourself this question: Had Colin Powell's name not have had the words “Former-Bush-Secretary-of-State,” would anybody have cared who he was endorsing? And would Powell have even been making his announcement on NBC's Sunday morning staple, "Meet the Press”?

Colin Powell and George W. Bush will forever be linked together in history, but will history ever link this president with assisting in eliminating race as a means to vetting potential presidential candidates or as high-ranking administration cabinet members? Only time will tell.

We bring this up now as we are but two weeks away from electing the 44th president of the United States, and it is time for Americans to set race aside as they consider who is best qualified to lead our nation for the next four years. Voting for John McCain because he is white is not acceptable, just as voting for Barack Obama because he is black is not. As Americans, we are much better than this; each of us must vote for the person whom we feel will best lead us in what is sure to be one of most challenging four-year terms in our last 60 years.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, we are getting closer to Dr. Martin Luther King¹s dream of a nation where people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.