Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama

Former Republican Secretary of State General Colin Powell announced his endorsement of Democratic Senator Barack Obama for President citing his agreement with Obama's foreign policy ideas and an aversion to the negative campaign of Republican Senator John McCain and his decision to choose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Powell told Tom Brokaw on NBC's Meet the Press this morning:

....he had watched both Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, for many months and thought “either one of them would be a good president.”

But he said McCain’s choices in the last few weeks — especially his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his vice presidential running mate — had raised questions in his mind about McCain’s judgment.
It's a fairly damning critique from a figure praised and respected by both parties for his skill, service and thoughtfulness. In recent years, Powell has been floated as a possible Presidential candidate. Burnishing his sterling image, many wondered which party's endorsement would he seek.

Powell's explanation of his support for Obama was essentially a rejection of nearly all aspects of the McCain campaign, most powerfully the national security and foreign policy aspects; fields in which Powell as viewed as no mere amateur.

Having served both Republican and Democratic administrations, Powell has been viewed as a professional whose judgment rises above the ideological melee, but is nevertheless respectful of the political implications of his work.

The good soldier version of his story is both reinforced and takes a hit by his tenure as President George W. Bush's Secretary of State. During that time he both counseled caution and care during the planning for Iraq. Yet he also carried some heavy water in his testimony before the United Nations Security Council which inflated the WMD justification enough to receive UN approval, heavily influenced by Powell's own reputation in his role as the U.S.' primary advocate.

Powell's Republican bona-fides are likely to hit the revisionist cycle quickly, however, as conservatives and McCain supporters play up aspects of Powell's foreign policy proscriptions they don't agree with and question his true fidelity to the Bush administration's goals.

That said, Powell provides some fairly tough armor for Obama's foreign policy flank. Perhaps finally putting McCain's foreign policy "advantage"-an advantage already questionable-back on the shelf. The additional criticism of McCain's negative personal attacks from someone widely viewed as a genial and decent person must be the icing for the Obama campaign. 
- Murphy

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