I take issue with three points Powell made (and of course his final choice of candidate)
1. The GOP has moved to the right
Colin Powell is very much in the moderate Republican camp, so there may be many Republicans to his right, but I know that the 20 million in Rush Limbaugh's audience would groan about the idea that the GOP has moved too far to the right. President Bush's approval ratings are so low because in addition to being hated by Democrats, he is seen by conservatives as failing to reign in government spending. As for the idea that John McCain is too far to the right...you've got to be kidding. Basically there is no small government conservative in the race (apart from Sarah Palin, and I'm not sure about her). John McCain talks about buying people's mortgages and enforcing Kyoto--he may be to the right of the most liberal member of the Senate but he's not a Ronald Reagan conservative. I think rather that the GOP has moved to the left, and the left has moved from somewhere left of center to the far left. As Reagan said, "I didn't leave the Democrat party--it left me." I have no doubt that Harry Truman and JFK would be Republicans today. The hard left--the Daily Kos, Media Matters, Al Gore climate alarmists, Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, ACORN, Keith Olbermann left-- has a respectability in today's Democrat party that is astounding and revolting. In 1965 these people would be a kook fringe--today they are mainstream.
2. Bill Ayers
Powell and most mainstream media commentators miss the point of Ayers. Nobody seriously thinks that Barack Obama is an undercover domestic terrorist. But Obama's defense that he was 8 years old doesn't cut it for me. For one, Ayers was still bombing in 1981, when Barack was in his 20s. But the point is not the Weathermen but what Ayers has done since then. He took the Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals to heart, got himself an education degree and started "the long march through the institutions." Revolution from within. Rather than march in the streets and throw bombs, you infiltrate the educational institutions, and indoctrinate American children so that they grow up believing your radical conceptions about social justice and how the US of Amerikkka is an evil place. From what I can gather Ayers subverted the Annenberg money and donated it to radical groups who did absolutely nothing to improve the students' education. And guess who was his right hand man during this time--Barack Obama. Bill Ayers wasn't some guy who lived in the neighborhood--they worked together on a radical education project. Obama has such a meager record and he refuses to release information about his past and I am afraid that many people who vote for him would not vote for him if he was forthright about his beliefs. The stealth candidate. His socialist leanings slip out on occasion, like when he tells Joe the Plumber that he wants to "spread the wealth." Stanley Kurtz at National Review has written extensively on this but nothing has appeared in the mainstream media.
I also take issue with Powell that the McCain campaign is wrong to bring up the subject of Bill Ayers. While the press has been camped out in Wasilla investigating rape kits, and going through Joe the Plumber's tax records, no one is looking at the unsavory cast of characters surrounding Obama. Ayers--a murderer who bombed the Pentagon, was involved in a bank robbery where a cop was killed, who says he didn't kill enough. Tony Rezko, a gangster who helped Obama buy his house. ACORN--involved in perhaps hundreds of thousands of fraudulent voter registrations in this election, and implicated in the subprime mortgage mess because of their racist blackmail of mortgage companies. Jeremiah Wright--a racist anti-semite preacher who despises America. If Obama was a Republican, ACORN and Jeremiah Wright would have been on the front page of the New York Times every day for the duration of the campaign. Obama should have been immediately disqualified as unsuitable for office. And instead, the press and people like Powell somehow find fault with McCain for occasionally mentioning these connections--although McCain for some unfathomable reason has put J. Wright out of bounds. Obama has a "fight the smears" website, but he's the one who smears constantly, who plays the race card and calls any critic a racist. He is not a transformational figure as Powell says. He is not "inclusive" as Powell says--he's a Chicago politician who plays hardball politics and tries to destroy anyone who gets in his way.
3. "Obama is a not Muslim and even so, there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim"
I agree. The story about the Muslim soldier killed in Iraq was a touching plea for anti-discrimination but is not germane to why we should vote for Obama.
Barack is a Christian (if you can call J. Wright's church Christian)--and the fact that he has a Muslim connection in his childhood is not a reason to vote against him. It is true that Obama's father was Muslim and he was registered at a madrassa in Indonesia as a Muslim and he has called the muslim call to prayer the sweetest sound on earth. Nothing wrong with this, but it is not a paranoid fantasy to mention that Obama has affinity to muslims. It is also clear that every (?) muslim country is hoping Obama wins. This could be positive if you believe that Obama can resolve diplomatic problems by force of his personality, or negative if you worry that hostile countries like Iran think Obama will be a pushover and will side with them against Israel.
But I think Powell is using a straw man argument. He says "some Republicans'" -- but not McCain -- whisper that Obama is Muslim. "Some Republicans" are not running for President. Some Democrats are comparing John McCain to George Wallace--and Obama is still called "inclusive" -- no criticism by the press--even though his campaign has repeatedly played the race card.