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Election '08: Powell's Shallow Endorsement

By now you know that Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president. He made it clear to Tom Brokaw during his appearance on Meet The Press to announce the endorsement that it wasn't an easy choice for him to turn away from 25 years of friendship and professional engagement with John McCain, a man whom he admires and respects. But Powell believes that Obama represents the kind of generational and philosophical change that's needed now. That's great and I'm glad for the endorsement. But it felt a little shallow. Powell made it clear he wouldn't be out stumping for Obama. Why not? I wondered. Shouldn't action go with his words? He could go a long way towards sealing the deal if he got out and campaigned for Obama. As it is, he did the bare minimum.

It's a little disappointing but not altogether surprising. Powell is a strangely timid man, something we saw in the lead in to the Iraq war, a mistake about which he had grave doubts but played the good soldier for in a bad cause. Strange that he sealed the deal for that, but is now hesitant to make full amends. In fact, he stopped short of admitting his mistake and defended a position on it that remains indefensible. He had a chance to redeem himself by coming clean and then saying he was willing to do whatever he could to help clean up the mess. The mess won't be cleaned up if McCain still somehow wins this election.

Instead, Powell indicated his willingness to let fate play out without him doing everything he could do to determine its course. His endorsement of Obama will be heralded by the press and pundits in the days to come, but it left me a little empty and kept my ambivalence about him as a public figure completely intact.

Come on Colin, words are nice, but actions speak louder. There's still time for you to get right with history.

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