Colin Powell, who supported the "transformational" Obama in 2008, is hedging his bets on 2012. Renowned as a DC weathervane who skillfully identifies and sucks up to those who can do him the most good, General Powell now must see the which way the wind is blowing. AP:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell declined Tuesday to renew the presidential endorsement he gave Barack Obama four years ago, saying he wasn't ready "to throw my weight behind someone" at this time.
Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post comments:
Conservative foreign-policy gurus will have a hearty guffaw over that one. To be blunt, Powell has no real weight to throw around; it's hard to fathom that voters are hanging on his decision.
More to the point, Powell has acquired quite the reputation on the right for suck-uppery to the Beltway establishment and the Davos-hopping, Aspen Institute-blathering, "Charlie Rose"-admired set. He is less than (ok, entirely un-) beloved by those offended by his gross moral failure in theScooter Libby case and those who went to bat for the surge in Iraq. When he came out to endorse the entirely under-prepared Barack Obama in 2008, heaping scorn on his longtime colleague Sen. John McCain, the universal reaction among hawks (aside from the involuntary retch) was that this was yet one more play to the Georgetown cocktail circuit.
The importance of Powell's hedging is not that the general is so influential per se. It is that his abandonment of full throated support for Obama acts is a signal to others on the likelihood that support for Obama will pay dividends. Donors will take note: the ship appears to be sinking, and the rats know it.