Sure, it’s annoying. But it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. The endorsement is great for Obama, because stories about Republicans who have defected are like cocaine to the media. Is there a more celebrated figure among the politically enlightened than a Republican who finally realizes the error of his ways? And for Powell, it’s a shrewd move. His estrangement from the Republicans began while he was still a member of the Bush administration, and took the form of repeatedly leaking to the press in an attempt to discredit his boss. He knows he has no future with the Republicans, and figures that for the remainder of his working years — Powell is 71 — Washington will be run by Democrats. So you give a nod to Obama and get a twofer: you revive your reputation, which is tarnished by Iraq, and you make your professional life very easy for the coming years.
It is interesting that the same people who say that the members of the Bush administration who took us to Iraq are a bunch of liars and war criminals are now celebrating the wisdom and good judgment of one of the people most implicated in “lying us into war.” (Remember Powell’s WMD presentation to the UN?) Powell did his reputation a great disservice by refusing to repudiate the anti-Semitic statements of his chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, who referred to several Jewish members of the Bush administration as “card-carrying members of the Likud party…You wouldn’t open their wallet and find a card, but I often wondered if their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel.” Wilkerson also called on the president and vice president to be impeached. On all of this, Powell says nothing. But when the PR payoff will be huge, he shows up on Meet the Press.