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He didn’t ask me, but now that Sen. Barack Obama is the PN (Presumptive Nominee), his biggest task, aside from soothing the bruised ego and feelings of a certain ex-president, is to choose his running mate. He has his advisory committee to come up with a

The nearly 18 million people who voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton think she would be an excellent choice, and, she’d probably accept that role. But Obama should ignore that clarion call because it would bring not only Hillary, but her still-ticked off husband Bill, into the White House through the back door.

Bill has shown that he won’t be bossed, and Hillary still thinks she’d make the better president. No, Barack, keep those potential problems away from your front door. Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Kathleen Sebelius, John Edwards, Ed Rendell, Jim Webb, even Caroline Kennedy are among the names that have been floated. All fine people.

All able politicians. All would bring something to an Obama presidential ticket. But if he wants to choose someone that would not only add to his ticket but would give the kind of loyalty that cannot be questioned, there is only one choice for vice president: Gen. Colin Powell. I know I’m not the first person to suggest Powell, who headed up the first Gulf War, who served as national security advisor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State.

He was probably the best possible choice for president eight years ago, much better than the guy who ended up his boss. Powell brings the military and foreign policy gravitas to the ticket that Obama lacks. He’s respected everywhere (except in far right-wing land, where he is considered disloyal to President George W. Bush even though he was the one who ferried Bush’s lies about weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations).

Powell fell on his sword then for the war effort and was rewarded by being unceremoniously dumped. He’s now a senior statesman and a highly respected American. He’s also a Republican. Oh, that? Sure, Powell has been a Republican, but he has also shown that his partisanship doesn’t rule his reason. He has disagreed with the cabal that currently occupies the White House, and went to battle against Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

He would help get us out of the Bushes, unlike that pseudo-maverick John McCain, who would be a continuation of the Bush agenda. Powell is one of those Republicans who is intrigued by the Obama campaign. Powell recognizes that this opportunity won’t come along often, the opportunity to actually change the direction of the country.

He won’t let it pass by, and the opportunity to be a part of it might be too much to pass up. In 1995, he was riding high, with the respect of both Republicans and Democrats. He had done his military job well, and most opinion polls listed him among the most admired Americans. When the drumbeat started to get him in the presidential race, he said running for political office is “a calling that I do not yet hear.”

Don’t know if he hears it now, but if he does, it is because his wife has let him pull out the earplugs. It was fairly common knowledge that Alma Powell, a wonderful woman and a very smart woman, didn’t want her husband to run for office. She helps him head up America’s Promise, a group he founded in 1997 that encourages volunteering that helps kids by pushing mentoring, safe places for kids, education and child health care among its five promises.

She knew that a Powell candidacy would bring out all of the crazies and subject her family to the kind of scrutiny that it may not have survived. But now Obama has taken all of the first hits, and he’s the target for all of the urban “swift-boating.” Sure, they would still save some of their invective for Powell, and the idea of two Black men on the same ticket might just force the Democratic and Republican racists to McCain.

But the progressive Republicans out there, who have no alternative to McCain, would still embrace Powell, and independents would look at a Democratic/Republican ticket as proof that this Red and Blue State country had finally grown up. I don’t know if Obama has asked Powell. I don’t know that Powell would accept. But, he would make a great vice-president. Nobody asked me, but Obama should ask Powell. Obama-Powell in 2008.

Lou Ransom is executive editor of the Chicago Defender. He can be reached via e-mail at lransom@chicagodefender.com.

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