Hotline: Powell had hour-long private meeting with Obama on June 18th

June 18th being a mere five days after this story about Powell conspicuously refusing to say whom he’ll endorse broke big on the wires. Hmmm:

Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s spokeswoman, confirmed that the presumptive Democratic nominee and the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff chatted June 18, one-on-one for about an hour at the Armed Forces Benefit Association, where Powell rents space…

Cifrino said that Powell and Sen. John McCain met the week prior in Arlington.

The blogosphere is abuzz with speculation that Powell could back the Democrat, a sign of his disaffection with the Republican Party and the Bush administration. The nod could, of course, also carry weight with voters concerned about Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience. In poll after poll, the only consistent question in which McCain bests Obama is on the matter of who is best able to handle national security issues. A Powell endorsement of Obama would certainly be a blow to the Arizona senator’s chief selling point — that he is better prepared to be commander in chief.

Not the first time the two have met for an “informal” chat. The last time I wrote about this, I speculated that Powell would be invited to give a Zell Miller-esque keynote at the Democratic convention. Rather than revisit that, let’s approach this from the cold-eyed pragmatic perspective: If you’re Powell, what’s to be gained from endorsing McCain over Obama? He’s 71 years old (which is reason enough to laugh at the rumors of him being either of their VPs). Figure he has 10 years of political influence left if he’s lucky. Which party’s likelier to dominate the government over that time? Which party’s brand is tarnished? Which foreign policy view is a former Secretary of State who allegedly tried to talk Bush out of invading Iraq more likely to be sympathetic to? And then there’s this. Honestly, the true surprise at this point would be if he endorsed McCain, not Obama.