In this era of equality, not all political endorsements are equal in their clout. Indeed, some resonate much more than others.
That’s what happened yesterday when former Secretary of State and General Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for President. His blessing added a compelling voice to the Obama candidacy in the area that the Democratic presidential nominee needed most: national security. Although Powell has been friends with Republican presidential nominee John McCain for 25 years, he said that Obama had the superior intellectual capacity to lead this nation. At the same time, Powell said, McCain has been erratic on the fiscal meltdown and shown poor judgment in his selection of Vice Presidential running mate Sarah Palin. Coming from a Republican and former member of the George W. Bush administration, those words were heavy in their weight.
Powell’s backing of Obama was akin to Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman’s riveting endorsement of McCain last spring—with one major exception. Lieberman’s praise is old hat, while Powell’s endorsement is fresh. And coming only 16 days before the election, Powell’s words were particularly powerful.
We don’t want to make Powell’s support of Obama more than it is. His are the words of a single individual, and nothing more. But for the 8 to 10 percent of the electorate who are still looking for a tie breaker between the two candidates, Powell’s comments just may be enough to push them into the Obama corner. If so, this endorsement will be yet another chapter in the most improbable story that chronicles the election of 2008.