Obviously, on the merits, it makes no sense for a man who was "proud to be a soldier" during the Reagan presidency to endorse a man came to prominence on the strength of his desire to force our defeat in Iraq. And here's what Powell said at the 2000 Republican Convention:
[Republicans] are the party committed to lessening the burden of taxes, cutting government regulations and reducing government and cutting government spending - all for the purpose of generating the higher economic growth that will bring better jobs, wages and living standards for ALL our people!
So how does that square with his support of the farthest-left candidate ever to run for President on a major party ticket -- a guy who wants to impose job-killing, economy-crushing tax increases on Americans as the country teeters on the brink of recession?
What is Powell's MacGuffin?
He claims it isn't race. Okay, fair enough. And it certainly isn't personal antipathy to John McCain (who agreed with him about the necessity of the Iraq war), whom he says would be a "good president."
Instead, as the linked piece above notes, he says based his decision -- supposedly -- on John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin and the alleged Republican efforts to claim Barack Obama is a Muslim (despite the fact that no respectable, well-known Republican has done anything of the sort; John McCain's denunciation of Republicans that say Obama's full name; and McCain's refusal to bring up Obama's relationship with the hatred-spewing Reverend Wright).
His rationale for his endorsement is what gives the game away. They're two of the tropes most beloved by the elites and the media. Coincidence?
I think not. Colin Powell has long been known as someone who cares enormously about the opinion of the elite media -- and, frankly, elites of all kinds. Clearly, his reputation has taken a beating in those rarified circles ever since he (along with Joe Biden, incidentally) supported the Iraq war. He's desperate to regain his supposed "stature," and this is a quick and easy way to do it.
Obviously, if his support for Barack were predicated on principle alone, Powell would have endorsed him back in July, when Barack was courting him, well before the Democrat Convention -- when it would have been huge. Instead, he chose to wait until the media had anointed Obama a certain winner, and the polls are encouraging.
Look, everyone has to do what they have to do to get by. And for Powell, it may have been that the chance to rehabilitate himself among the Manhattan and DC cocktail party elites was simply too tempting to pass up. So be it.
But what his endorsement highlights again is that this race isn't just about left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative. It's about elites vs. normal, everyday Americans.
One final thought: If his support for Barack were because of nothing more than unalloyed admiration, here's a final question. Some on the left have claimed that Powell was "duped" by President Bush into supporting the Iraq war. Well, if that's true, what's preventing him from being "duped" again, this time by Barack Obama?