Monday, October 20, 2008

On Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama for president

By Carol Gee

(See clips of Powell's endorsement here. See also our post "Powell for Obama," including an assessment of right-wing reaction to the endorsement, as well as what the endorsement means for Obama, here.)

No surprise, this endorsement -- "Colin Powell endorses Obama on Meet the Press this morning," writes Steve Benen, and Matthew Yglesias. Though the announcement did not surprise many people, it remains as an item of big news. It seems to me that it is very significant because Powell still calls himself Republican. He, like many others in the same situation, did not leave the party; the party left him.

Retired General Powell will help with the centrist Republican vote, and with the military vote, though he will not actively campaign. Colin Powell would not rule out helping out in an Obama administration, however. His endorsement was unequivocal and fulsome, and gave no hint of any reservation. He mentioned (I paraphrase here) Obama's steadiness in difficult situations, talent for speaking, willingness to dive deep into issues to learn more, commitment to surrounding himself with the brightest people, and admirable intelligence.

Senator John McCain's decision-making lost Colin Powell's confidence two months ago. Powell cited a "narrowing" that the choice of Sarah Palin signified for the Republican Party. McCain also lost Powell's confidence with his inability to demonstrate effective handling of the economic crisis. And Senator Barack Obama gained his confidence during what he called the candidates' "final exam" of these recent weeks.

General Powell may be passing his own re-examination by skeptics and critics, who have remained mad at him for his inability to stop the invasion of Iraq. He took a good bit of time to explain the history as he lived it, citing bad intelligence as the precipitating factor. He conspicuously took no pains to defend George W. Bush's conduct of the war, which McCain has also criticized. In several contexts Colin Powell mentioned how important United States leadership is in the world and how much it has eroded.

Colin Powell made his judgment, in my opinion, about his choice based on merit. It was not based on McCain's association with Bush. At the same time he dismissed Obama's limited association with William Ayers, pointing to the campaign charges as further "narrowing" of the Republican party. He also explained that it was not based on race, as he could have made the endorsement much earlier, if that has been the case.

In the end Colin Powell's endorsement was about leadership capacity, now about tenure or loyalty. He has known and admired Senator McCain for decades, and Senator Obama for two years. He looked at the two men's attributes to be the leader of the free world in perilous times, and made his choice based on that much more expansive judgment.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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  • I am really disappointed in Colin Powell's endorsement to Obama. He's been wrong many times before in his thoughts and comments. How can he say Mr. Obama would make a good president when Mr. Obama can't even answer questions directly? I am just a middle class american who, among my many other counterparts, supports this country's economy and we always get the short end of the stick. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This phrase is still paramount as it relates to the politcal world, the CEO's with golden parachutes, etc., etc., etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:36 AM  

  • Not about race? Right. I have a bridge to sell if anyone is interested.

    P.S. I'm obviously racist because I didn't vote for Obama. (We already casted out votes through the mail.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:40 AM  

  • "Anonymous" - stating that Powell's endorsement of Obama is based in that they are both black is as stupid and narrow as you not voting for Obama because he's black. And in the situation, I think I am more likely to believe Powell is above the race issue, and you aren't.

    Endorsements are not everything in this race, but with days left before Nov. 4th, and with people already voting, John McCain needs face-time with the American public and this is going to kill that for the next few days. And the endorsement will hopefully start a dialogue concerning what has happened to the Republican party and hopes for it post-Bush-McCain.

    By Blogger Grant Haws, at 10:58 AM  

  • This goes to prove what this election is all about: NOT about the wars; NOT about the economy; NOT about healthcare...IT IS ABOUT BLACK AMERICA versus WHITE AMERICA!!!!!!!

    My kudos go out to those moronic liberal whites to chose to divide our nation. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. :(

    By Blogger Supe, at 11:07 AM  

  • "He, like many others in the same situation, did not leave the party; the party left him."

    Baloney. He was never "with" the party to begin with. He was always a RINO (Republican in name only).

    Recall when Powell was declaring his political affiliation. It took him literally forever, with much hang-wringing, to “decide” he was a Republican.

    He wasn’t. He isn’t. He did get a big-time job in a Republican administration, though.

    Powell was always considered an odd duck at the Pentagon. Like Obama, he rose fast, getting a lot of check-the-block assignments along the way. Not saying he lacked skill or military talent. But also not saying he did not benefit from various types of affirmative action.

    "Colin Powell made his judgment, in my opinion, about his choice based on merit."

    Powell’s endorsement message was straight from the Obama campaign talking points.

    Powell has the audacity (hand in glove with Obama no doubt) to question McCain's judgement in picking the most popular governor in the 50 states and who has more executive experience than her two opponents combined...while giving a pass to the judgement of Obama in hob-knobbing around with abject terrorists, corrupt financiers, and militant racists?

    He didn’t endorse Obama because he’s black, he endorsed him because he’s a freakin’ RINO, plain and simple. Powell disagrees with the Republican Party on 75% of the issues. There’s not hair’s breadth of difference between Powell and say, someone like Madleiene Albright on the issues other than that she’s probably more hawkish than he is.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:45 AM  

  • Thanks, Grant, for your comment.
    And thanks, also to the nay-sayers. It is the American way, huh, to cuss and discuss?
    I am reminded, however of the old story of the blind men and the elephant. It all depends on which part of the elephant you touch, as to how you translate what you feel into a reality.
    Actually, I have a great deal of compassion for Republicans right now. It is a tough time for both types -- the folks who are part of the base, and those who no longer feel they belong in the party.

    I say that out of my own eight-year experience of feeling I didn't belong. Happily, however, that is no longer the case.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 12:35 PM  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:10 PM  

  • I wasn't sure what General Powell meant by "transformational," so I did a little research on the subject and found this excellent synopsis of Transformational Leadership.

    Towards the end of the article is this interesting tidbit:

    "One of the traps of Transformational Leadership is that passion and confidence can easily be mistaken for truth and reality. Whilst it is true that great things have been achieved through enthusiastic leadership, it is also true that many passionate people have led the charge right over the cliff and into a bottomless chasm. Just because someone believes they are right, it does not mean they are right."

    Given the full meaning of transformational leadership, I would have to agree with General Powell that Barack Obama would be a transformational president.

    By Blogger Curious Texan, at 1:30 PM  

  • Forward Thinking 101
    using simple deduction...

    looks like Obama will win the election...

    the people have spoken, they want change...finally someone that will change things...hmmm...

    1. The overall media controlled by you know who was totally behind Obama...from the start...

    2. 28% of Obama's money was donated by republicans...and More than half of the whopping $426.9

    million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won't

    disclose, plus secret donors from overseas. The internet service providers (ISP) they were able to

    trace were from Saudi Arabia , Iran , and other Middle Eastern countries. One of the banks used for

    fund transfers was also located in Saudi Arabia. Another concentrated group of donations was traced

    to a Chinese ISP with a similar pattern of limited credit card charges. 13,000,000 clustered

    donations around $15 each...hmmm when he wins maybe the extra half a billion money donated can be

    used for the economy...

    3. it was discovered that Obama is a distant cousin of Lynn Cheney...

    4. the republicans have never had the courage or concept of picking a woman as a vice presidential

    candidate, its not their style... Obama refused several woman and McCain chose a woman...kind of
    reversed roles...

    5. All Things Considered, August 29, 2008 · The Country song Only in America filled the stadium

    Thursday night after Barack Obama's acceptance speech. The song by Brooks and Dunn was also featured
    in the last GOP convention and the campaign of George W. Bush.

    6. WASHINGTON – With or without a formal title, Colin Powell will have Barack Obama's ear if the

    Democratic presidential candidate wins the White House in the Nov. 4 election, the candidate said

    Monday Oct. 20th 2008,
    "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 republican, a four-star general and President Bush's former

    secretary of state, endorsed him.


    wonder why all the republicans have picked Obama...
    maybe they want change...I guess either way they win?

    they did it better this time...
    very clever concept, and they get more clever every time...

    we the people feel great we won...
    now be happy and get back to work...

    any questions....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:58 PM  

  • I can not believe the criticism of Colin Powell. After all he has done working for the government of this country and all of the respect he has gained, the ignorance out there leads him to STILL have to defend his opinion due to the color of his skin. Wake up people! This is 2008, will we ever be able to look past someone's skin color? Powell makes valid points and should not have to justify his vote, he is an American like the rest of us and has every right to vote. His hard work and dedication should not be dismissed. If he endorsed McCain, I sure some of you would be singing a different tune. Besides, a moderate is typcally more open-minded than the extreme left and right. Some folks so far on the right can not see past red, as well as the left can not see past blue. What is wrong with being an American that is not so color blind!?!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 PM  

  • "...28% of Obama's money was donated by republicans...and More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won't disclose, plus secret donors from overseas..."

    Here ya go, this'll open your eyes a bit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:22 PM  

  • " was discovered that Obama is a distant cousin of Lynn Cheney..."

    You sure that wasn't Lon Chaney?


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 PM  

  • Honestly, I've had enough of the election. I know who I'm going to vote for and endorsements and commercials aren't going to change my mind.

    The economy is going to keep sliding until this election is decided. The current president, has failed to offer any meaningful leadership that would get us out of this economic mess. So, I suspect that when a new president is elected, the public will have a better sense of where the country is going.

    No matter who is elected, he needs to take decisive action to repair the economy. I signed this petition to the 44th prsident.

    The message is clear -- we need you to lead us out of this economic mess.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:50 PM  

  • Most people saw this coming. And Powell's comment on Meet The Press yesterday indicated why - he doesn't want a conservative Supreme Court. It is because Obama is an extreme pro-Abortion candidate. While some say that he's backing Obama because of Race, I have to question this assertion: given Powell's intelligence that A) the modern abortion environment stems from the Eugenics movement (Margaret Sanger - originally intending to sterilize and/or exterminate blacks); B) that Planned Parenthood conducts 79% of it's "business" in minority communities; and, C) that 1/3 of the total number of black Americans currently U.S. citizens have been aborted...thus, it is clearly impossible to argue that Powell supports Obama exclusively for the reason that he is black. It is the culture of death that Powell espouses.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:53 PM  

  • I probably broke my own rule in my post, so apologies ahead of time for that. I try hard to avoid ascribing motivation to others. I have a difficult time even knowing what motivates me, let alone others. Thinking we know what motivates Obama or Powell or McCain or Palin is a dicey business. I try to look at the behaviors, instead.
    It is my belief that we are a poorer people when it comes to race relations these days, and I am saddened by that. But I am hopeful that positive experiences will help to heal the breaches between us over time.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 4:18 PM  

  • I've watched Powell for a long time and have never understood why he projected himself as a Republican. His values have never meshed with conservative values in a convincing way.

    Are we really to believe Powell is so weak minded that the most liberal candidate to run for office EVER would lead him to scrap his entire ideology?

    Are we really supposed to believe that picking a VP - any VP - would lead Powell to completely divorce all conservative values?

    I don't propose to know Powell's (motivations), but his words are clear enough. Opposing any appointment of conservative justices - and therfor supporting the appointment of activist liberal judges reveals the bedrock of his core values.

    Judges aren't politicians. They don't pick VPs and they don't regulate the economy.

    They simply uphold and interpret law - which are drawn from the very virtues we believe men should live and be governed by... and Powell made his ideologies clear, for perhaps the first time in his life.

    He needs to come fully out of the closet and stay out of the closet. His vote is no more important than the waitress or the plumber.

    The 200+ ranking military officers and Generals who have formed a coalition to support McCain are unheard of in the press. Is one man's opinion really more important than 200?

    Apparently it is, so long as it's a liberal decision.

    By Blogger Danny Vice, at 8:03 PM  

  • Colin Powell was George Bush�s most trusted advisor. He sold the war in Iraq to the American people and the U.N. Selling Barrack Obama should be a �slam dunk�.

    By Blogger clatech, at 9:24 AM  

  • Powell laid out his reasoning clearly and comprehensively in that impromptu interview that aired after the “Meet The Press” appearance, and it was rational, intelligent, and compelling. He did redeem himself in my eyes, and he did remind me that not all Republicans are irrational, extremists.

    The way the McCain campaign has conducted themselves has been erratic, non-sensible, inflammatory, hateful and outrageous, so much so, that it has forced big names in the Republican party to come out and speak against it—amazing!

    By Blogger Big Fella, at 3:46 PM  

  • Unlike McCain, Powell is REALLY putting the COUNTRY FIRST!!

    All of this talk of race is really silly and just another lame attempt to distract the public.

    Why if African-Americans were so shallow as to vote based on race, they would support Alan Keyes and not the biracial Obama. Right-wingers, give it a REST!

    By Blogger D. Lopez Reese, at 1:34 AM  

  • Anonymous comments aren't worth the electricity need to run these pcs!

    Why are there so many cowards and sore losers on the RIGHT?? All of their talk is nothing more than SMOKESCREENS.

    These people are the most UNPATRIOTIC people in this country and I often wonder if any of them have ever read the Constitution????

    Here is the easiest way to figure Republicans out....Whatever they say or claim, they REALLY MEAN THE OPPOSITE. (The Patriot Act = Un-Patriotic Act, leave no child behind = leave as many behinds as possible, they call others socialist when all one has to do is look at the Bush policies, pro-life = pro-death, war and violence, Christians = they ignore Jesus was the BIGGEST LIBERAL the world had seem etc....)

    All said and done, I hope Powell learned a lesson from those backstabbers who now disrespect him because he DARE to THINK for HIMSELF.

    By Blogger D. Lopez Reese, at 1:45 AM  

  • To all, this was a fun run. None of us changed anyone's mind, probably, but the dialog was still useful, I think. When I have to put something into words, it helps clear my own thinking, and sometimes to reveal my biases. Could we ask for better? It is still a great country for which I am thankful.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 10:51 AM  

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