Robert Novak

While he never would use such language, Colin Powell is said by friends to share Hunter's analysis of the GOP. His tenuous 13-year relationship with the Republican Party, following his retirement from the Army, has ended. The national security adviser for Ronald Reagan left the present administration bitter about being ushered out of the State Department a year earlier than he wanted. As an African-American, friends say, Powell is sensitive to racial attacks on Obama and especially on his wife Michelle. While McCain strategists shrug off defections from Bruce Bartlett and Larry Hunter, they wince in anticipating headlines generated by Powell's expected endorsement of Obama.

While Powell may not be a legitimate Obamacon because he never was much of a conservative, that cannot be said for his close Senate friend Hagel. He has built a solidly conservative record as a senator, but mutual friends see no difference between him and the general on Iraq, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, George W. Bush and the Republican Party. In a speech today (Thursday) at the Brookings Institution, Hagel was expected to urge both Obama and McCain to reach out to each other. At the least, Hagel is not ready to strap on armor for his longtime political ally and office neighbor, John McCain.

Published reports listing additional Obamacons do not add up to tides of conservative Republicans leaving their party. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is a Democrat who entered government in the Kennedy administration. Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams (an African-American) leads me to believe that he has no intention of endorsing Obama. Conservative author Richard J. Whalen is for Obama because he sees a dead Republican Party, but he also was for John Kerry in 2004.

Nevertheless, Obamacons -- little and big -- are reason for concern by McCain. It also should cause soul-searching at the Bush White House to ponder who made the Republican Party so difficult a place for Republicans to stay.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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