Colin Powell drops the other shoe

posted at 11:10 am on October 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama today on NBC’s Meet the Press.  The endorsement had been rumored for months, as Powell has made no secret of his disaffection from the Republicans since his retirement as Secretary of State. It gives Barack Obama much needed support on questions of foreign policy and military affairs in a period of time when people may question whether to trust a man with no experience at either.  But did Powell miss the window?

After months of hints and speculation, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama this morning, a huge vote of confidence in the Illinois Democrat with just 16 days left before the November election.

“He has both style and substance,” Powell said of Obama on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “I think he is a transformational figure.”

As we wrote on Friday, the Powell endorsement carries huge symbolic importance — not only is he a former high-ranking member of President Bush’s Cabinet but he also was the most visible face in making the case for the war against Iraq.

Powell’s endorsement complicates any attempt by John McCain and others within the Republican Party to cast Obama as naive on world affairs and unready to lead in a dangerous time. Obama now has a ready retort: “Well, Colin Powell seems to trust my judgment; that’s why he endorsed me.”

I’m not going to impugn Powell’s motives here. He served his country honorably in every task assigned to him, and he’s earned the right to participate in the political process. Unlike endorsers like Christopher Buckley, Douglas Kmiec, or Michael Smerconish, Powell has never publicly identified himself as a conservative activist. He’s mostly stayed within the military and foreign-policy realm and could easily have served as Secretary of State in a Clinton administration as much as in a Bush administration. This doesn’t represent any hypocritical apostasy, and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, either.

However, I don’t think this will have the same impact it may have had in the summer, for two reasons. First, I think most people expected Powell to endorse Obama, and most of us expected it at the Democratic convention. Powell hasn’t hidden his disdain for his former colleagues well, especially while his closest aide Richard Armitage spent most of his time ripping them. Coming as it does now, it may impact some voters who still feel uncomfortable with Obama’s lack of experience. Otherwise, I don’t think anyone likely to be swayed by this endorsement didn’t already factor it into their thinking.

In August, Obama could have used this when he fumbled the Russo-Georgian conflict. Now, though, foreign policy has dropped to the second tier for most voters. They’re more interested in economic issues, and I think Joe the Plumber has more resonance than Colin Powell at this point in the election. Powell, who has no experience in economic issues and has never spoken out on them, simply doesn’t figure into those concerns.

Powell’s endorsement still gives Obama a boost and certainly some gravitas. Does it really change the ground in this election? I’m skeptical. McCain needs to hammer on these economic themes to make Powell’s endorsement less relevant over the last two weeks.

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And my thanks also to Hilts and ManlyRash. I didn’t expect that many responses when I checked back. I had always thought the Jews would/should vote Repub because of the Pub’s support of Israel. Your responses explain a lot.

Shelby on October 19, 2008 at 8:41 PM

You are right, Jews should support conservatives not only because of Israel but for other factors as well such as opposition to affirmative discrimination, law and order on the streets, low taxes, and a variety of reasons, but as progressoverpeace states, the role of guilt is very germane to many Jews psyche — after all how can we vote against the Black man?

Hilts on October 19, 2008 at 8:48 PM

I still believe that any Obama leaning voter was going to vote Obama no matter what. People will see the Powell endorsement for what it really is – one black man who is conventionally politically liberal endorsing another black man who is very liberal. Colin Powell was a false God for too many otherwise intelligent Republicans.

Everyone already made up their minds long ago who they were going to vote for. Endorsements ain’t going to change anything. All we can do is hope for a great turnout for our side.

Hilts on October 19, 2008 at 9:06 PM

Come on Ed tell me you’re kidding. Here are 2 quotes. First, Powell is a liberal, always has been. This is what we get for being friggin “inclusive”:

As a key reason, Powell said: “I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we’d be looking at in a McCain administration.”

So he is concerned about Roe v. Wade but not about Obama plugging in 2 more whackjob Liberals that would legislate from the bench.

“And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities — and you have to take that into account — as well as his substance — he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.”

Does that not sound like the basic talking points of any run of the mill Obama-bot supporter? I mean are you kidding me? He has a paragraph about his style and throws in “and his substanc, he has substance”. Kind of like he realized he forgot to throw that in.

Like Ace says:

Colin Powell was never a Republican. He was a military officer who knew how to play the political game during a period dominated by Republicans. Of course he kissed Republican ass. Just as he kissed Bob Woodward’s ass to make sure he always came out smelling like roses in his books.

But he’s never been on our side. He’s always been a liberal, and, moreover, he’s always been on Colin Powell’s side.

And I will let the ex-military folks over at BlackFive say it perfectly:

Really, there’s only one reason why a retired Army General, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former National Security Adviser and Former Secretary of State put his support behind without-a-doubt the least-experienced and the most naive foreign policy candidate for President the nation has ever seen.

Job security.

broker1 on October 19, 2008 at 9:24 PM

Wish anyone who has a clue about what’s going on with Obama and his completely ridiculous foreign policy “positions”, this just sounds like another black guy wishing to see a black guy in the White House so bad he’d sell his soul to the devil.

amkun on October 19, 2008 at 9:43 PM

Shelby on October 19, 2008 at 7:17 PM

Context Shelby, context. The polls don’t matter. Only the ignorant follow the polls.

McCain is forwarding his plan without the need of some financial guru endorsing him as a way to give him credibility. The effectiveness and basic conservatism of it can be debated, but no one has their hand up McCain’s back working his mouth.

Oslime-a is Charlie McCarthy and his advisers are collective embodied as Edgar Bergen. And after spending hundreds of millions on his coveting of the presidency, they still cannot seal the deal for him/themselves. So they trot out Powell and tries to ride his coattails into office.

If I remember correctly, you supported a different guy for the nomination. I understand that your guy didn’t get the nomination. Neither did mine. But unlike you, I have put it behind me because the constant spumescence about it is unbecoming because it shows a person as shallow and shrill.

You are starting to remind me of a slug covered with salt. You sit there in your agony frothing away. I suspect that many people realize this about you and have their salt shakers on the ready…because lets face it, torturing snails is an acceptable practice.

csdeven on October 19, 2008 at 9:44 PM

This ridiculous assertion is not helping.

baldilocks on October 19, 2008 at 7:26 PM

Totally agree! (as usual)

These kind of accusations remind me of the mentality of the Krazy Kos Kiddies and the rest of the moonbats. We need to stick to the stuff that is verifiable or at lest have a very high confidence of veracity.

csdeven on October 19, 2008 at 9:48 PM

Bradky on October 19, 2008 at 8:27 PM

I think a SecState who is former military is a negative message for those that fear us but really don’t need to. What we need is one secatate who is former military to deal with the terrorist states and another civilian as secstate for everyone else. That may be why Powell was replaced.

csdeven on October 19, 2008 at 9:52 PM

ok, I confess. I am voting for McCain because he’s white.

texaninfidel on October 19, 2008 at 10:36 PM

They are gloating, right now, on the ‘local’ news that Powell, ‘the best republican, evah!’ has endorsed 0bama and how he repudiates the entire Republican party.

They gave this 90 seconds, right after giving Palin all of fifteen seconds, despite her actually campaigning here today.

Thanks a lot Colon. (spelling intentional)

LegendHasIt on October 19, 2008 at 11:29 PM


Yes, but Powell helped bring about the war. That is what is so absurd about all this. Not long ago, no one on the left could stand this guy.

Now he is one of them. But ask them what they thought of his judgment when he went in front of the UN.

I think it is all about race and self interest. Powell is looking out for himself.

Terrye on October 19, 2008 at 11:47 PM

I think you’re missing something that is quite obvious to the undecideds. Oslime-a hasn’t strengthened his foreign policy bona fides on his on efforts, he needs Powell to do that. McCain IS establishing his economic bona fides ON HIS OWN with no endorsements needed.

To the undecideds, McCain looks stronger and Oslime-a looks weaker.

csdeven on October 19, 2008 at 7:08 PM

Obama’s foreign policy position is undoubtedly influenced by Powell. I think Powell has been in Obama’s kitchen cabinet for some time. Don’t look for any sudden smarts on Obama’s part — he’s already accumulated all the smarts he can get for now.

unclesmrgol on October 20, 2008 at 12:14 AM

he’s already accumulated all the smarts he can get for now.

unclesmrgol on October 20, 2008 at 12:14 AM

He can have the ones from Powell – he was a weasel at State, and thereafter. I will always respect his Military service, but the period beyond is weak, and no path for America.

Entelechy on October 20, 2008 at 1:30 AM

From TPM:

It’s quite a blow for McCain on each point. But the most galling must be what Powell said about his judgment, his steadiness in moment’s of crisis. Powell and McCain are both in their early 70s. Obama is a quarter century younger. And in so many words Powell said that compared to Obama, McCain simply lacks the seasoning, the maturity to be president.

–Josh Marshall

Prima facie idiocy.

Powell: Either one of them, I think, would make a good President.

silverfox on October 20, 2008 at 2:01 AM

Here’s another angle. Powell has seen nations rise and fall andknows some of the elements that lead to both. He also knows that when nations fall to communists, the safest place to be is in bed with the communists. Maybe he is just a survivor and knows things we don’t yet know.

Or maybe he is just voting for identity politics like the rest of the black race seems bent on doing this time around.

MikeA on October 20, 2008 at 8:17 AM

Colin The Betrayer.

MaiDee on October 20, 2008 at 8:26 AM

These are the money quotes from Powell? “He has both style and substance,” Powell said. “I think he is a transformational figure.”

Good grief! Why not go all the way and remind us that he is clean and articulate?

exdeadhead on October 20, 2008 at 9:22 AM

Frankly, I think this is a double win. Would you want Powell to endorse McCain? I sure wouldn’t.

Vashta.Nerada on October 20, 2008 at 9:33 AM

he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.

And what exactly is your standard for a successful president, General? Obama couldnt even meet the standard to run a convenience store much less the United States. No offense meant to convenience store owners.

abcurtis on October 20, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Obama: Powell will have a role in adminstration

By LAURIE KELLMAN – 6 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Colin Powell will have a role as a top presidential adviser in an Obama administration, the Democratic White House hopeful said Monday.

“He will have a role as one of my advisers,” Barack Obama said on NBC’s “Today” in an interview aired Monday, a day after Powell, a four-star general and President Bush’s former secretary of state, endorsed him.

wise_man on October 20, 2008 at 2:56 PM

The Republican Party may not get certain ethnic groups in great numbers but that’s because certain ethnic groups, by the pushing of the ‘piece of the pie’ idea by Democrats, identify first with their ethnicity before anything else. That is not the fault of the GOP that seeks to include people based on political philosophy rather than identity politics. For all the bigot, uninclusive, racist accusations that gets leveled at the GOP, we are the biggest tent ever.

Liberals have never been below lying to push their agenda. You can see it all around. Think about how many so-called ‘Republican’ candidates who have been elected that either started voting with the other side, jumped to the other side, or demagogue their own party? If you feel so bad about your party’s politics, why are you affiliated with them? That goes back to the first sentence, they aren’t really politically right. They are leftist infiltrating the right so as to keep their agenda from moving forward. But look around, a Miller or a Lieberman are a major anomaly. Their side kicks them out or goes after them with lawyers or ethics violations. The GOP elects our traitors as a Presidential Candidate or Secretary of State and then wonders why we get slammed and made fools of constantly. It’s not because we’re closed-minded and unaccepting of different points-of-view. It’s because we are often too accepting we get the sh!t kicked out of us.

I personally think that I don’t care who you are based on religion, creed, or ethnicity but I do care that you’re conservative. If you aren’t, start your own damn Party or join the other one. This kind of wishy-washy BS is disingenuous. You either agree politically with one side or the other. If you can accept a position in a conservative administration you should have honestly agreed with it and not used it as a position to promote your own beliefs. If you were conservative in all honesty and being honest with the American people from the get-go then how can you support a Socialist bordering on Marxist/Communist without any qualms? They are not one in the same.

Sultry Beauty on October 20, 2008 at 3:03 PM