He Sees It Too

October 19, 2008 7:57 p.m.

I spent most of this weekend at a family celebration. So it was only this evening that I got a chance to see Colin Powell’s statement at the beginning of Meet the Press this morning, which you can see here …

And what struck me was that Powell’s rationale for supporting Obama tracked very closely with some of the harshest critics of Sen. McCain, despite the fact that he used less cutting words to express them.

There were three key points he hit. First, he questioned McCain’s unsteady and erratic response to the economic crisis. He didn’t use the word ‘erratic‘ but he might as well have. McCain was “unsure”, “almost everyday there was a different approach to the problem,” he “didn’t have a complete grasp of the economic problems.” In contrast, Obama had “steadiness” amidst the crisis.

Second, he questioned McCain’s “judgment”, particularly but it would seem not exclusively in his decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate, someone Powell said was unqualified to serve as president.

Third, he said he was “disappointed” in McCain’s sleazy campaign tactics. Yes, ‘sleazy’ is my word. But Powell’s own words were pretty clear — he was talking about McCain’s campaign of distortion and innuendo aimed at painting Obama as a crypto-Muslim and terrorist. It “goes too far”, said Powell, in something of an understatement.

It’s quite a blow for McCain on each point. But the most galling must be what Powell said about his judgment, his steadiness in moment’s of crisis. Powell and McCain are both in their early 70s. Obama is a quarter century younger. And in so many words Powell said that compared to Obama, McCain simply lacks the seasoning, the maturity to be president.

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