Should Colin Powell Endorse Obama?

Cross-posted from

Faultline USA


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.”