Just a couple of weeks ago, Bill Kristol and Zbigniew Brzezinski shook up the presidential race for a day or so by predicting that retired Gen Colin Powell would appear in Denver and endorse Barack Obama. Powell angrily denied that he would attend either convention, and afterwards no one has heard a word about the former Secretary of State’s political intentions in this cycle. In an apparent response, sources within the John McCain campaign have leaked Powell’s name as one under consideration for McCain’s running mate:
Retired Gen. Colin Powell is among the potential running mates who have been considered by John McCain, campaign advisers told Politico.
Powell was among the possible vice presidential choices the Arizona Republican senator was thinking of when he said he would not rule out a supporter of abortion rights, a key adviser said.
On a completely credulous level, this makes a lot more sense than Joe Lieberman as a reason for flirting with the pro-choice option. Powell’s decision to leave the Bush administration has made him into a bigger hero than before with independents, centrists, and some Democrats. That’s why Kristol’s speculation stoked such worry among Republicans. He remains a formidable figure with great respect and national reputation, and his endorsement of Obama for President would go some way to eliminate worry over his inexperience in the center.
On the other hand, McCain’s selection of him as running mate would bolster his standing with both the center and the pro-military constituencies. The biggest drawback would be Powell’s pro-choice stance, but Powell has never had to cast a vote on a bill affecting abortion in his life. McCain would hope that a personal stance on the issue could get minimized with statements of supporting strict constructionists to the court.
This ignores, of course, the repeated protestations of Powell that he doesn’t want a life in electoral politics. Powell might have won the nomination for President in either party, if he really desired this as a career. At least he would have made a more compelling candidate than Wes Clark. Why settle for a job once described by its occupant as less significant than a warm bucket of spit? Why not run for Governor of New York instead?
The Powell trial balloon looks more like a way to counter the Kristol story than a serious selection for the VP slot by McCain. If McCain could get Powell to accept the position, it would definitely be a coup, but Powell’s made it clear he isn’t interested.