11/19/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Powell: GOP Leaders Spreading Muslim Rumors

Somewhat lost in Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama this morning on MTP were his comments on the rumors out there about Senator Obama, Islam and terrorism.

If I read the transcript correctly, (and I would love to hear all interpretations of his remarks) it seems to me that General Powell blamed officials of his own party for quietly encouraging, if not actually fomenting, lies about Obama being a Muslim (not that there is a single thing wrong with that, as Powell so beautifully explained), and his possible connections to terrorism.

Powell made three separate references to Republican Party operatives spreading these rumors and lies around (though many of us assumed they slithered out of the basest and most racist recesses of the Internet):

1) "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."

2) "I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists."

3) "John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions."

Anyone who "drops the suggestion" that Obama "might be associated" with Islamic terrorists is spreading vicious, incendiary gossip. I hope that, one day, Colin Powell will be able to explain those intra-party comments, and who made them, in more detail.

Lies about Obama's faith, and insinuations that he means this country harm, are apparently not the sole purveyance of "low information" voters at high-anxiety Red zone rallies. They are equally promulgated, according to General Powell, from the highest echelons of the Republican party itself.

And that is sad news, to me. As Powell himself said: "We have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way."