Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Along with just about everybody else. The Houston Chronicle, LA Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune (!) and and The Peking Duck all have endorsed Obama. Colin Powell’s endorsement is significant because he is widely respected across traditional divides, and he was, if anyone remembers that far back, one of Bush’s top cabinet members. He made some bad mistakes, but he always struck me as the pearl among the swine, a person of integrity who, tragically, let his soldier’s loyalty override what he knew was the right thing to do when it came to Iraq.

Powell had the courage to criticize the McCain camp for being needlessly negative, and singled out McCain’s attempts to tie Obama to Bill Ayers as “not what the American people are looking for.” Another great day for Obama.

Update: Excellent, concise analysis of why this is so catastrophic for McCain, who had considered Powell as a running mate. Do read it. Closing arguments:

I’d just add that Powell didn’t just tacitly offer a vague endorsement, he offered his unapologetic support to Obama, while blasting what’s become of his old friend, John McCain. He sounded like a man who barely recognizes what’s become of today’s GOP. For self-described moderates and independents, Powell remains a widely admired figure. What’s more, few if any Americans enjoy the media adulation that Powell has, which means coverage of this morning’s announcement is likely to be very strong.

With that in mind, Powell’s endorsement this morning may very well have a significant impact.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

This is fantastic news. The world can sleep a little easier tonight. Obama wins big now for sure; it’s just a question of how big.

Rednecks, KKK, and moose hunters – eat your hearts out. This is going to be one for the good guys.

October 19, 2008 @ 10:56 pm | Comment

Isn’t it cool? Eight miserable years of failure and futility, a global reputation and an economy in tatters, and Osama Bin Laden still thumbing his nose at us. No one can change those things overnight, but this is certainly the one true ray of hope we’ve seen in a full eight years. Obama, as I’ve repeated endlessly for those who forget, was not my No. 1 choice and I haven’t always been happy with him. But when you consider the alternatives, and when you consider that a Democratic landslide can finally break the Republican filibuster and actually start to turn this country around…. well, let’s just say it’s a thrilling thought. And so long overdue.

October 19, 2008 @ 11:12 pm | Comment

singled out McCain’s attempts to tie Obama to Bill Ayers

That isn’t correct, richard – he referred to the McCain camp. Perhaps you don’t see the distinction but he made it nonetheless.

when you consider that a Democratic landslide can finally break the Republican filibuster and actually start to turn this country around…

Out of curiosity, what policies has the Republican prescence in Congress being filibustering/would be likely to filibuster that the US needs so much? I don’t see the Democrats in Congress being any better than the Republicans at the moment.

October 20, 2008 @ 1:20 am | Comment

It certainly comes as a painful embarrassment to the McCainiac camp.

October 20, 2008 @ 5:43 am | Comment

Powell was a swine among swine. It was his ridiculous “Pottery Barn” doctrine and his lying about WMD that helped lead to the Iraq problems. I was more swayed by Fareed Zakaria (sp?) coming out for Obama today. He also gave a much better explanation than Powell for doing so.

October 20, 2008 @ 6:02 am | Comment

Raj, McCain talked about Ayers in the debate and elsewhere. If there is a distinction in this case it is very slender.

Dan, I do disagree on this. His “Pottery Barn” doctrine was one of his best moments, I thought, as it was the first and only time someone in the administration admitted in so many words that we “broke” Iraq, that we fucked up. Agree about his role in Iraq, but he was the most resistant to the invasion and often made life very hard for Bush by refusing to talk the party line – they wanted him to go much further than he did. Still, what he did was wrong – but being a pearl among the swine is always relative. Considering the high level of swinery among the Bush cabal, the bar for being a pearl was set quite low..

October 20, 2008 @ 7:37 am | Comment

Raj, here are Powell’s exact words: “Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him?”

You can try to parse as much as you want, but he is obviously critical of the McCain campaign in general and of McCain in particular. Who is responsible for the McCain campaign, whose values does it reflect. If the answer is not John McCain there something is seriously wrong.

October 20, 2008 @ 8:07 am | Comment

Richard, you quoted a comment as being directed towards McCain when that wasn’t the case. You complained some time ago when I wrote about a Guardian article, saying how you used to be a journalist and so forth. So you should apply the same standards to yourself.

he is obviously critical of the McCain campaign in general and of McCain in particular

He also said that he thought McCain would make a good president, so his criticism of McCain cannot be that high.

October 20, 2008 @ 8:13 am | Comment

He also said that he thought McCain would make a good president, so his criticism of McCain cannot be that high.

Raj, you’re right on that. However, I don’t think either one of them will make a good president.

October 20, 2008 @ 10:20 am | Comment

Powell was clearly telling the truth in everything positive he said about Obama, and lying when he praised McCain.

October 20, 2008 @ 10:57 am | Comment

Powell was clearly telling the truth in everything positive he said about Obama, and lying when he praised McCain.

That’s a genuine NYT headline right there!

October 20, 2008 @ 11:11 am | Comment

And if it’s in the NYT it’s good enough for me!

October 20, 2008 @ 11:54 am | Comment

Powell was clearly telling the truth in everything positive he said about Obama, and lying when he praised McCain.

Richard, you do sarcasm very well sometimes.

October 20, 2008 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

Powell’s big moment was when he went before the UN and exposed Saddam weapons of mass destruction. He now calls this the “lowest point in my life.” Whether you believe Saddam had WMD or not, how does Powell come out with any credibility at all?

October 20, 2008 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

Many people in the world believed they had WMDs, including a lot of the most prominent liberals. It was the lowest moment in Powell’s career. But it wasn’t the one and only moment, and I’ve forgiven him, just as I’ve forgiven moments of asshattery by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. One day I’ll even forgive McCain, because I believe there is more to him than just this election campaign. It will always bother me, but one has to realize, we are all humans and we all fuck up. If we were to hang politicians – and anyone else – for their blunders, there’d be an awful lot of corpses dangling from the trees. Powell owned up to what he did. I can’t fully forgive or forget, but neither can I say he now has zero credibility.

October 20, 2008 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

Powell trusted that the intelligence Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Tenet gave him about WMD and mobile bio-chem labs was true. He was a good soldier and repeated the party line.

October 20, 2008 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

Thank you Lindel. I have no reason to believe otherwise. I have read about him refusing to recite the scripts Bush wanted him to, and the notorious UN speech of January 2003 was a lot tamer than Bush-Rumsfeld requested. Like many of us, including Bill Clinton and me, it did appear Saddam either had WMDs or was playing cat-and-mouse with the UN weapons inspectors, baiting them and playing games. Powell and George Tenet were sincere about their belief Iraq had WMDs, from everything I can tell.

October 20, 2008 @ 11:45 pm | Comment

Powell’s endorsement of Obama does not verify Obama’s judgement, but rather brings Powell’s judgement into question. Powell says that Obama is ready to lead … WHY? … Regardless of Powell’s last minute endorsement, Obama is still the most liberal senator in congress … who accomplished nothing in his meager 3 years in office, except voting present 160 times, and campaigning for President, as well as associating with anti-American racists and domestic terrorists … and, taking America down the road to socialism. Obama betrayed a friendship of 20 years, for personal ambition. Powell betrayed his friendship with McCain. McCain did not betray his fellow prisoners, even during 5 years of torture. These facts speak volumes about who these men really are, and whether or not we can trust them.

October 21, 2008 @ 1:45 am | Comment

Powell is one of those kinds of public servants who does not air dirty laundry in public.

he most likely will keep a lot to him self and will be willing to accept public scorn for his part in promoting the war. the president he served at the time made the decision so he did his duty.

if it was not for powell, cheney and rumsfeld would have invaded iraq in 2002 and ignored afghanistan to start a war with iran.

he fought against the two cronies to make sure the US went after bin laden and the taliban in afghanistan. it cost him his job.

October 21, 2008 @ 2:45 am | Comment


McCain betrayed his first wife though, after she faithfully and wholehearedly waited him for 5 yrs, because she’s overweighted and 4 inches shorter ……

October 21, 2008 @ 10:26 am | Comment

I have an ethical problem with Stuart’s comment’s; the ignorance represented by declaring non-moose hunters and rednecks as the good guys is disgusting. How can you look down upon fellow Americans in that manner? As for Howard’s comments; to what point may those two examples demonstrate causality between the truchworthiness of each candidate?

October 22, 2008 @ 4:49 am | Comment

I am proud of my anglo-saxon heritage which why I look down upon the KKK and rednecks. But you are correct that one should not equate moose hunters. I am sure there are a lot of moose hunters who are not members of the KKK and I am sure there are a few who are not rednecks, but as far as looking down on rednecks and KKK it is hard not to when they insist upon crawling around in the gutter. You have to look down to avoid stepping on them.

October 22, 2008 @ 4:57 am | Comment

Howard, Obama has certainly shown that he can lead, and better than McCain. His campaign has displayed two qualities his opponent (and the GOP as a whole) has lacked : discipline and judgment. He could have given in to those who were urging him to get nasty and rumble with McCain as the attacks came flying in. Instead he retained his leadership image by remaining calm, polite and rational. That “taking America down the road of sociaism is amusing, especially in light of our fiscal bailout. I wish he were the “most liberal man in the Senate” (an urban legend spawned by an article in the National Journal – other similar surveys place him much further down the list), and whether he will be liberal enough at a time when America is thirsting for a return to liberal, Democratic (pro-worker, pro-regulation) values, I am concerned Obama may be too moderate, too eager to please all parties in the Clinton style. I’m willing to give him a fair shot to prove himself. He has already shown he can energize, lead, organize and win. Look at the chaos in the McCain camp, and at the misery generated by his choice of Palin, and be grateful Obama is going to be the next president of the United States. Judgment, communications skills and remaining calm in the face of adversity are the key qualities all great presidents possess. McCain can be a good communicator. But his judgment and impetuousness and famous temper all make him unfit for command.

October 22, 2008 @ 7:48 am | Comment

One project I have been working on is to read a biography about each american president. I am not in any hurry but have a made a list of presidents and have started ready a book about each in no particular order. I first try to find a good autobiographical work if one is available or the most highly rated biographical work if no autobiography is available. I only mention this because someone brought up moose hunters. Right now I am reading Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography. I would not say it is the best autobiographical work I have read, it is a collection of various writings and letters collected in one volume, but I am impressed with Theodore Roosevelt. He got it. He has liberal and conservative values. The thing that strikes me most is that reading this work the past couple of months and listening to the current version of John McCain I find it hard to believe that he actually read this or is even really all that familiar with Theodore Roosevelt in any profound or meaningful way.

I would bet Teddy would not care a whole lot for Sarah Palin or the current administration as far as economic policy or the current war in the Iraq are concerned. I can’t say he would be voting for Obama or any democrat, but he would most likely have some agreement with Colin Powell’s assessment of McCain and the Republican Party today. I am sure he would admire McCain’s ordeal in a prison camp, but would be disapointed with his lack of depth on issues of business and labor.

October 22, 2008 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

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