It's pretty late in the game for an endorsement of Obama to make a difference, isn't it?
Sure, the endorser matters, and depending on the type of "expert" opinion he/she gives regular folks like you and I could be swayed. After all, Joe the plumber is causing a big change in the independent vote, which now swings toward John McCain. Joe's grace under pressure and unpretentious, no-nonsense (and well-informed) attitude are inspiring to many voters who feel intimidated- or just annoyed- by the elitist, we-know-better-than-you personas of the Democrats and their accompanying media pundits.
And on the liberally-leaning conservative side of the voting population, Powell is a champion. He quibbled with Bush (albeit, privately) about whether or not to engage in combat in Iraq, pushed forward the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" legislation which allowed gay men and women to join the military without revealing their sexual agenda, and publicly declared that Saddam Hussein was actively producing wmds. His first White House appointment was as National Security Advisor to President Reagan, and he's a highly decorated Vietnam veteran too.
He's shown himself to be cautioned and thoughtful; even when it's turned out to look like foot-dragging he's stuck to his ground. All in all he's a pretty respectable advisor and military man.
But does the demographic he appeals to large enough to tip the voting scale toward a "President Obama?"
Powell's reasons for supporting Obama are also a little sketchy. It's not about race, Powell says. Ok, right. But his other reasons for supporting Obama are vague and lacking in power. We're supposed to believe that: "Powell's endorsement may also sway some voters who were hesitant to vote for Obama because they felt he was not ready to be the nation's commander in chief, said Bill Schneider, a CNN senior political analyst." (CNN.com) Ok, but why exactly?
"It was extremely reassuring for this experienced military leader, a general, someone who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was secretary of state..." (Keep in mind at this point Schneider is still talking about Powell, not Obama!)
"...to endorse Barack Obama and say, 'His world experience, his commitment and knowledge of national security are fine. You can vote for him without those kinds of reservations,' " Schneider said."
Fine? Obama's "world experience" and "knowledge of national security" are just fine? Sorry, but I want a President whose knowledge and experience are above average, his policies innovative and reflective of the people, not of his own ideology alone. I don't want fine, I want excellent.
Powell also cites that, "over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower." But shouldn't McCain's focus become narrower as he sets sights on the most important issues for the American people, so that when he is in office he knows where to begin? I don't want my newly-elected President to start thinking about his major moves after he unpacks the boxes!
Finally, in regard to the economic bailout situation, "Powell said he found McCain 'a little unsure as how to deal with the economic problems that we were having, and almost every day, there was a different approach to the problem' (CNN.com). Again, if McCain was trying to come up with several solutions and some of them didn't work, so be it. At least he was trying! There has been no better moment than, at the recent "roasting" of Obama, McCain joked sarcastically that Obama would be ready for all drastic economic changes, even a rapid rebound. If that were to happen, McCain guffawed, Obama would halt all campaigning and rush to D.C. to stop it.
So, is Powell's endorsement the "warm glass of milk" that Schneider thinks it is to voters yet undecided? It does bear a resemblance: it's tepid and uncontroversial, bland and goes down easy. Yet it has no substance. In comparison, McCain as of late looks like a shot of whiskey.