Colin Powell Endorses Obama: What Does It Mean?

I imagine just about every reader watched Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama on today's Meet the Press; you can see it there or listen to the key points on this podcast.

I often find Powell too wishy washy for my taste, but then he is a
diplomat by disposition and profession. And in this case, the cool,
calm, measured way he articulated his reasons for endorsing Obama while
respecting McCain may have served the national debate well. At least I
am sure it serves the debate going on about
my most recent Hearfeldt Politics post between Linda and Stacy.  

Key point summarized by Jonathan Martin at Politico
point out that even devoted moderate Republicans like Powell do finally
have a breaking point with the meanness and right wing extremism that
has captured the Republican Party in recent years.

Powell made plain that his decision to back the Democrat was as much
motivated by what he saw from McCain and the GOP as anything Obama had
said or done, using much of his explanation to express unhappiness
about the campaign of a man he's known for 25 years...The former Army
general and moderate Republican also repeatedly expressed concern about
the GOP's "rightward shift," using the selection of Sarah Palin for
vice president as an example. Palin, Powell said flatly, is not
qualifed because she's not ready to be president — the primary role of
the vice president . Powell, a native son of New York City, also
knocked one of Palin's signature lines. "Not just small towns have
values," he said.

Powell didn't address some of the
issues we have been talking about here, in particular McCain's
positions on women's or reproductive rights, nor the disdain for
women's health that I feel  exhibited in the last debate by putting
that key concern into quotation marks with his hand gestures. However,
Powell did include probable Supreme Court appointments in his reasons
why he chose Obama over McCain.

Powell's endorsement comes at
the time when the candidates are closing their deals with the American
public and when the majority of Americans are making their final voting
decision. Some will say that blood is simply thicker than water and
it's not surprise that an African American man would endorse another
African American man. My guess is there is a shred of truth, even
though Powell's creds as an honest broker are strong. It's not going to
make the difference in the outcome of the presidential race in any
case, for Powell in typical fashion didn't take a particularly
courageous or game changing stand.

Nevertheless, his
endorsement of Barack Obama is especially important for many who have
worried about Obama's foreign affairs leadership qualifications and for
many independents and moderate Republicans who are still uneasy about
Obama for a variety of reasons.

Powell has basically summed up
where the majority of Americans already are politically. It won't
change many votes but it will increase voters' comfort level with the
man Powell calls "transformational figure".  And when it comes to governing post-election, that will be of enormous importance in an Obama presidency.

Heartfeldt Politics Blog