Saturday, October 18, 2008

Should Colin Powell Endorse Obama?

Rumors are rampant that retired Gen. Colin Powell will announce his support for Sen. Barack Obama on"Meet the Press" tomorrow. Pundits speculate that Powell has a few scores to settle with the Bush administration. Some say revenge; some say remorse.

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol started the rumor back in early August when he wrongly predicted that Powell would endorse Obama at the Democratic National Convention. That didn’t happen.

Howard Fineman of Newsweek wrote Friday that he believes that “racial pride will have something to do with” a Powell endorsement for Obama. Although Powell is personally close to McCain, he has also advised Obama on foreign policy and defense issues.

According to Fineman, moderate Republican Powell has no use for neo-cons.

An endorsement of Obama would be an indirect but powerful way of expressing his resentments and regrets: refusing to support a fellow Republican who has very Bush-like ideas about how to make America more secure in a world of terror.

Yesterday Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post explained “Why the Powell Endorsement (Could) Matter”

Cillizza wrote that Powell has “made little secret of his admiration for the Illinois senator” but has not yet endorsed Obama. Powell’s endorsement of Obama would be the biggest feather in Obama’s cap. It would be the highest symbolic endorsement for several reasons.

According to Cillizza the number one reason is Powell’s revenge, or as Cillizza puts it in more nuanced terms, ‘Turnabout is Fair Play.”

The idea that a high-ranking cabinet official in a Republican administration would come out for the Democrat is simply too juicy a story for the media to ignore.

Cillizza gave three other reasons as to why a Powell endorsement would be great for Obama: (2) Powell is highly popular with a 76% favorability ranking among voters, according to an August Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. (3) Powell is still smarting from the “blot” on his record for making the case for the invasion of Iraq in front of the U.N. (4) An endorsement of Obama would seal the undecided vote if Powell shows American voters that he believes that Obama is more trustworthy to lead the country than John McCain.

So according to Cillizza’s reckoning, two out of four reasons for Powell’s willingness to support Obama might be revenge-based motivations.

Today Tim Harper of The Toronto Star writes about Oliver Stone’s movie, “W”, and the portrayal of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. Harper calls Powell a sell-out. Perhaps another Powell motivation to endorse Obama could be remorse? Addressing Powell’s role Harper writes:

. . .the movie reminds us – accurately – of the terrible sell-out this man became in the run-up to the war, questioning and challenging Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld behind closed doors, then meekly jumping aboard the war train in public. . .

In perhaps his best scene, Stone expertly mixes footage of Jeffrey Wright portraying Powell against the backdrop of real television footage as Powell blithely sells a pack of lies to the United Nations in 2003. . .

The appearance of revenge and remorse as motivations to endorse Obama cannot help Powell’s standing among American voters. If Powell endorses Obama, Powell’s image might suddenly tarnish.

Beth Shaw of wrote that “It’s truly perplexing that a man like Colin Powell would find Obama’s politics anything he could support.” Shaw goes on to point out some of the differences in both men.

On the surface, there is nothing that is readily evident that would link the two men. Colin Powell is a warrior. Barack Obama is not. Powell worked his way through the R.O.T.C. in college to the highest positions in the nation that his military career could take him. He earned his positions through hard work and ability. Obama was selected, courted and groomed through Chicago politics and then onto the national political stage. Powell has honorably and courageously fought enemies of our nation and performed the most noble of duties, commanded men on the field of battle. Obama’s hair turned gray debating Hillary Clinton.

Shaw includes an interesting video interview of Colin Powell by Dianne Sawyer on April 10, 2008. Sawyer asked if Powell would endorse anyone, which he didn’t. Sawyer also asked Powell about Obama’s famous speech on race and the inflammatory comments of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Although Powell found the comments of Rev. Wright “deplorable” and “offensive,” Powell stated that Wright “also made enormous contributions in his community and has turned a lot of lives around.” Powell stated that he admired Obama for handling the issue well, and “he didn’t abandon the minister who brought him closer to his faith . . .”

Will Powell abandon the Republican party; the party that made him the first African-American Secretary of State? Tomorrow may tell us all if Powell applies these same standards to himself, if and when he makes an endorsement on “Meet the Press.”

See also "Will race or conscience drive Powell’s decision about Obama?"


  1. If Powell does support Obama, call it for what it is, a sell out. How in the name of common sense can a man of Powell's integrity, a man who has defended this country for many years with honor, a man who holds individual freedoms high support an empty suited socialist. To do so would be to abandon all that he has stood for his entire life and that would be nothing more than a sell out.

  2. The reasons that the pundits give for Powell to endorse Obama all are petty. Gen. Powell is a man of honor and decency. He wouldn't hurt a friend to revenge himself on Pres. Bush. If he wanted to do that, he could have done it better and with more effect years ago.

    I pray that he doesn't endorse Obama over his old friend. It would be a stab in the back to John McCain. Something that is outside Gen. Powell's character.

  3. What difference does it make who Powell endorses except to leftist media outlets?
    He's one man with convictions and beliefs and only one vote, so why should this even be news worthy except to the left wing media mouths?

    If Powell endorsed McCain would the media plaster it all over and make a big deal about it? I seriously doubt that.

    This too me is just one more example of vote pandering by the DemoRats and the media spreading the illusion that Nobama is the one.

    Personally I never cared for Powell as a politician. As a general the man was brilliant. He should have stayed a general or retired and stayed out of politics.

  4. Dean Powell just gave his endorsement to Obama today and he "claimed" that he wouldn't be campaigning for him. Then he announced it again on today's "Meet the Press" and spent his entire time campaigning for Obama. Basically he came off as having an extreme dislike for Sarah Palin and her “small-town” values. You will recall that Powell also endorsed Bush/Chaney. No, he’s not much of a politician and he’s lowered himself quite a bit in my estimation.

  5. The General Sold out with a Judas Kiss. Read it over on Jus'Sayin.

  6. This endorsement speaks volumes and I believe it will be a needle mover for two relevant voter segments this election: (1) moderate Republicans who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the extreme rightward direction of the McCain-Palin campaign and (2) people who are holding back on Obama-Biden primarily because of foreign policy and national security concerns.

    Aside from the blemish on his record in relation to the Iraq war, General Powell still garners tremendous respect from the vast majority of Republicans, and every Republican President in the last three decades has sought his advice on National Security and Foreign Policy issues. I hope that General Powell's endorsement will sway the votes of some members of the two above-mentioned segments away from John McCain and Sarah Palin and towards Senators Obama and Biden.

    This election is still too close for my comfort, and the excellent news about General Powell aside, it will be important for those of who support Senator Obama to get to the polls on election day (or sooner if you can!) and vote not only to ensure his victory, but also to demonstrate the greater sense of unity and solidarity our country desperately needs right now.

    Comments welcome: