This past Sunday on Meet the Press, retired Army General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. Reasons Powell cited for his endorsement included both positive views on Sens. Obama and Biden, and negative views on Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin.
Specifically, he noted Sen. McCain's choice of Gov. Palin as a running mate demonstrated questionable judgment. He compared Gov. Palin's readiness to serve as President to Sen. Biden's readiness, concluding that Sen. Biden "is ready to be President on day one."
Gen. Powell also expressed concern with the criticisms leveled at Sen. Obama by the Republican party - namely, the recent focus on Bill Ayers and the ongoing mischaracterization of Sen. Obama as a Muslim. As an aside, Gen. Powell's standpoint on the latter criticism mirrored my views in a past column - wondering why being called a Muslim is tantamount to being "smeared".
Conversely, Gen. Powell praised Sen. Obama as "the better option to repair frayed U.S. relations with allies overseas," which serves as a counterpoint to GOP criticism of Sen. Obama's relative lack foreign policy experience in comparison to Sen. McCain.
Gen. Powell's is by far the most anticipated endorsement thus far - and perhaps the most potentially influential as well, especially since Gen. Powell served as Secretary of State in the Bush administration and is a registered Republican.
Other prominent Republicans have publicly endorsed Sen. Obama, including Sen. Lugar (R-IN), Rep. Gilchrest (R-MD), Former Sen. Chafee (R-RI), Former VA Gov. Holton, Former LA Mayor Riordan (Republican), Susan Eisenhower (granddaughter of Dwight D. Eisenhower), and Dennis Hopper.
Among newspaper endorsements, Sen. Obama leads Sen. McCain 112 to 39. Several papers that endorsed President Bush in 2004 have come out in support of Sen. Obama, including the Houston Chronicle, the Austin American-Statesman, the New York Daily News, the Denver Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Salt Lake Tribune.
But do these endorsements matter? Are they enough to sway as-yet undecided voters - or even those who are leaning toward Sen. McCain?
I can only speak for myself; Gen. Powell's endorsement of Sen. Obama did influence me. I'm only marginally interested in the endorsements of other politicians (although I'll admit that Sen. Lugar's endorsement is more significant than most). I'm not at all interested in which candidates are supported by celebrities - mostly because I fail to see how mere celebrity affords a person greater insight into politics.
Given how measured and deliberate all of Gen. Powell's statements are, I must conclude that he gave this endorsement of Sen. Obama long and careful thought. But hearing from such a highly decorated and accomplished military veteran (one whom I remember being held up as a standard even when I was an ROTC cadet more than 15 years ago) and a former Secretary of State in a Republican administration that Sen. Obama is the more qualified candidate - it's certainly worth giving consideration, whether you're a Republican, Democrat, or otherwise.
Julie is a former Air Force officer and professional project manager turned web writer. She spent four years at the Pentagon and five years in New York City, and her suburban life in Colorado seems pastoral by comparison. She's no political pundit, but she is an objective thinker in a sea of partisan propagandists. She writes for The Mom Slant, Cool Mom Picks, and is co-founder of The Parent Bloggers Network.
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