Sunday, October 19, 2008

How the Powell Endorsement Boosts Obama

Mark Halperin, at Time Magazine, takes a look at how the Colin Powell endorsement helps Obama. Powell, despite his role in the Bush administrations lies about Iraq, is still one of the most popular and trusted figures in politics -- I think this endorsement offers Obama legitimacy on the international stage that even Joe Biden couldn't bring to the ticket.

Halperin: How the Powell Endorsement Boosts Obama

Former U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell.

In one of the most important symbolic moments of the general election, former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced today that he is endorsing Barack Obama for president. Making his decision public on NBC News' "Meet the Press," the long-time fixture in Republican administrations effectively reinforced the sense of momentum Obama has been building, declaring the Senator from Illinois as a "transformational figure." "I think that Senator Obama brings a fresh set of eyes, a fresh set of ideas to the table," said Powell. "I think we need a generational change, and I think Senator Obama has captured the feelings of the young people of America, and is reaching out in a more diverse, inclusive way across our society."

Sources say Obama courted Powell's support for well over a year, with private discussions that have largely involved policy consultations, but also some explicit pleas for support. Powell's neutrality up until now had worried some Republicans, and a possible nod for Obama has been rumored and discussed for months. Whenever he has been asked in public about Obama, Powell has had nothing but kind words but, before his appearnace on Meet the Press, always stopped short of a full endorsement.

The decision is not only symbolic but, in terms of timing, one of great tactical importance. Powell is a brand unto himself in American politics, and clearly transcends the media's tendency to hype endorsements more than their actual importance to voters. However, the indisputable benefit that Powell brings Obama is that the former Secretary of State and general is sure to block out any chance McCain has of winning the next two or three days of news coverage, as the media swoons over the implications of the choice. It is simple political math: McCain has 15 days to close a substantial gap, and he will now lose at least one fifth of his total remaining time.

Powell's decision brings other clear benefits as well. He is so trusted for his judgment on national security (even in the wake of his role in the current Iraq War) that his confidence in Obama to become commander-in-chief will resonate with many elites and voters. The Democrats' ability to play the Powell card for the next two weeks makes it much harder, even if there is an unexpected international crisis, for Republicans to suggest Obama simply isn't qualified to protect the country. Powell reinforced Obama's qualifications on "Meet the Press": "Senator Obama has demonstrated the kind of calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach to problem-solving that I think we need in this country."

Read the rest of the article.


1 comment:

WEF said...

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.

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