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Powell Endorses Obama

October 20th, 2008

Not that it wasn’t expected:

Powell said he had watched both Obama and Sen. John McCain in the last “six or seven weeks,” since the national political conventions, and paid special attention to how they reacted to the nation’s worsening economic situation.

“I must say, he seemed a little unsure about how to approach the problem,” Powell said of McCain. “He didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems we have.”

Powell also expressed concerns about McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. “I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of vice president,” Powell said, adding that it raised “some questions in my mind” about McCain’s judgment.

As for Obama, Powell said, “I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.” “He’s thinking that all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values,” Powell said, in an apparent reference to remarks Palin made earlier this week that she enjoyed visiting the “pro-America” areas of the country.

The retired general said that “John McCain is as non-discriminatory as anyone I know,” but he expressed serious concerns about his campaign’s, and the Republican Party’s recent focus on Obama’s past association with William Ayers and robocalls the campaign has placed in battleground states this past week. “I think this goes too far. I think it’s made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me. The party has moved further to the right,” he said.

Now, as a result of his performance at the U.N. leading up to the Iraq War, Powell does not have nearly the cachet today that he once had, far less with liberals, in fact. But he is still highly regarded by many independents and conservatives, and that could be critical in the next few weeks as many people in the center or just right of it make up their minds. Powell’s voice could swing votes to Obama, or at least lessen enthusiasm for McCain where McCain needs it.

To me, Powell is a tragic figure–a man who could have been the first African-American president, instead choosing to avoid the brutal fray of politics that Obama is now navigating, only to wind up badly damaged by the people he swore his loyalty to.

Signing up to serve in Bush’s cabinet was a colossal blunder for Powell. He was crassly used by that administration. His sage advice was largely ignored, he was cut off and disregarded–and then his gravitas, the respect everyone had for him, was abused by his boss, who knew he had a soldier who would follow orders. Powell lost a massive chunk of his credibility by the time he had left the Bush administration.

Like the tragic good-guy-turned-villain-turned-good-again in so many movies, this seems like Powell’s exiting grasp at righting some of what went wrong. I can only imagine someone altering the ending scenes from Return of the Jedi, putting McCain’s face on the emperor’s, shooting wicked rays at Luke Obama, and have Darth Powell turn on McCain and throw him down the shaft in a final act of remorse and heroism.

It will be interesting to see how McCain reacts to this.

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  1. Tim Kane
    October 20th, 2008 at 12:43 | #1

    The importance of Powell’s endorsement is pointed out here:


    (the above made before the endorsement the below post made after the endorsement reinforcing the point).


    The point is that it negates most of the arguments that McCain and the Republicans will pummel at Obama the next two weeks.

    This may turn out to be very important with time over the next two weeks. As Josh Marshall has pointed out, the McCain campaign’s message will be “Obama is black and he may be a terrorist.” As the date draws closer, the claims will become more extreme and obnoxious because there’s not enough time for the press or the Obama campaign to debunk.

    On Monday afternoon, two weeks from now, expect the McCain campaign to claim that Obama is a Muslim extremist, Manchurian candidate from Mars sent to enslave the white race.

    Too late to work on me, though. I already voted.

  2. Tim Kane
    October 20th, 2008 at 17:12 | #2

    As a liberal, I didn’t see much value in whether or not Powell came out for Obama.

    However, I think the Jed Report articulated best why Powell’s endorsement was so important.


    After the annoucement he followed that up with this post (which has a nice encapsolation of Powell’s most relevant statements, complete with a video montage he created):


    In short, what Jed says is that Powell’s endorsement substantially, if not thoroughly, undermines the thrust of the attacks that will be meted out at Obama over the next two weeks.

    These seem like a pretty good points that he makes.

    I’ve convinced myself over the last 12 months that I’m not that good at politics, especially the prediction stuff. But it seems to me, there’s roughly 14-15 days left. And they divide roughly into three cycles of news. Powell’s announcement has torpedoed McCains next 4 days of attacks.

    In foot ball parlance, McCain attempted a tackle and was effectively stiff armed from doing so by Obama – another 1st down for Obama, so he gets to keep the ball. McCain needs to prevent Obama from getting a first down, get the ball back, throw a “hail mary” touch down pass, and then kick an on-side kick to keep control and close out the game with possession of the ball. That sort of thing, at the very least.

    Josh Marshall has said that the McCain/Republican strategy for the next week is two pronged: A message of “He’s definitely black, and he might be a terrorist”, and an attempt to stifle voting at predominantly democratic polls at the times that predominantly Democrats vote.

    McCain’s been thwarted on both items this go around. But there are two more cycles (at least) to go. It could end up close, or it could end up as a land slide. Wow.

  3. Leszek Cyfer
    October 20th, 2008 at 19:09 | #3

    McCain will react to this?

    No way, unless pushed for answer :)

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