In the case of General Colin Powell’s extraordinary endorsement of Barack Obama for president, however, its effect could endure through November 4, with devastating results for John McCain's slim prospects of election. This may be the first nail in the McCain campaign coffin as the end game begins.
General Powell’s indictment of the Republican Party and McCain was so wide-ranging that extended excerpts of his interview-endorsement bear repeating here (emphasis mine):
On McCain and the Republican Party:
I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years it has moved more to the right than I would like to see it.
I also believe that on the Republican side, over the last seven weeks the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower.
On McCain and the economy:
And I must say that I’ve gotten a good measure of both, and in the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. And almost every day there was a different approach to the problem. And that concerned me, sensing that he did not have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had.
And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.
On the Republican smear campaign:
And I’ve also been disappointed frankly by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign has, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign, but Mr. McCain says he’s a washed out terrorist—well, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship, that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, now Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings, and I think that’s inappropriate.
I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrower. It’s not what the American people are looking for. And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me. And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift.
On Republican religious bigotry:
I’m also troubled by…what members of the party say, and is permitted to be said, such things as, ‘Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, 'He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is, 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer’s 'No, that’s not America.'
Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture, at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave, and as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, purple heart, bronze star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old, and then at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have a Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Ushad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11. And he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know, but I’m troubled about the fact that within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.
On Supreme Court appointments:
I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we would be looking at in a McCain administration.
On Senator Barack Obama:
So when I look at all of this and I think back to my army career, we’ve got two individuals. Either on of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I’ve come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities, as well as his substance, he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.
I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation, coming onto the world stage, the American stage, And for that reason, I will be voting for Barack Obama.
Amen. Thank you, General Powell, for being a voice of reason and candor from the rational, moderate (what’s left of it) wing of the Republican Party.
One parting thought: Having Sarah Palin's frivolous, worst yet, unfunny appearance on Saturday Night Live juxtaposed against the gravitas of a great American hero and the most respected military man of our time give this endorsement of Barack Obama the following day, Sunday on Meet the Press (an NBC twofer!) is doubly devastating for John McCain.