John, I was struck by how little Colin Powell said on the substance of Barack Obama’s views. Was Obama right on the issues on which he opposed Powell (e.g. the decision to go to war)? We don’t know. Does Powell agree with Obama’s views on Iran (e.g. direct talks with Ahmadinejad, opposition to Kyl-Lieberman)? Again, he doesn’t say. When you’re in the feel-good business — “transformational,” he calls it — the substance of your views matter not so much.
The one note of national security substance which he provides is a curious one: “We now see that things are a lot better in Iraq. Maybe if we had put a surge in in the beginning, it would’ve been a lot better.” Did Powell support the surge? I don’t think so, at least not according to the tell-all books we have seen. But I am sure McCain did and Obama did not. Ah, well.
As for its impact on the race, I suppose those people who hold special respect for Powell and not very much for Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Alexander Haig (who all endorsed McCain) will be moved. If we use your multiple choice quiz from yesterday on the Powell endorsement, I’ll take “e.” And one final thought: if McCain thought he was going to get extra credit for showing restraint on Reverend Wright and thereby convince elite opinion makers what a swell, sensitive guy he was, it didn’t quite work out.