He thinks Obama can be “transformational.” He doesn’t like Palin. He doesn’t like the negativity of the McCain campaign. Unquestionably, whatever his considerable flaws, Colin Powell is a genuinely great American and a great public servant. But as a political actor? That is, to put it mildly, an open question. His high-profile role both at the Republican Convention in 2000 and as the first declared cabinet secretary in a possible Bush administration helped generate a staggering 8 percent of the black vote for Bush in 2000. Obviously, Obama doesn’t need Powell’s help there. And what about with independents? Somehow, if they still haven’t made their minds up yet, an October 19 endorsement by somebody isn’t going to tip the scales.
No, what this does is suck up oxygen for a few days, and could potentially do damage to what appears to be a small degree of momentum McCain has found in the past six days. It could also spur some people on the Right to say some profoundly stupid things on race that would help stoke the media fire against the McCain campaign’s putative racism.
On the other hand, it could mean nothing.