Friday, October 17, 2008

The Great Meme Squash, October Surprise, or Both?

It looks as though the Obama campaign has a little surprise in store for the McCain campaign and for the American people: Rumor has it that Colin Powell might endorse Obama this Sunday on his appearance on Meet the Press.

If the rumors are true, this would be an astonishingly savvy and effective campaign maneuver. It hits on several levels:

1. "Joe the Plumber" gets squashed by "Colin the Powell": If our newly minted not-so-plumber plumber were to be the iconic device that re-re-re-energized the McCain campaign, the chances of that actually happening would be drastically reduced by the weight of Powell's endorsement of any candidate, much less a Democrat.

2. Trick-or-Treat: I thought Republicans are the party that's supposed to have the best October Surprises. Could the Obama campaign have had this in their back pocket, and strategically timed it if/when they felt there was a counter-momentum building?

3. It's the Economy and Iraq, Stupid: Just when you thought the economy was the only issue facing our nation, is it possible that Powell will make foreign policy a key component of the decision for voters? And -- against all odds -- will Powell give Obama the instant gravitas he needs to be seen as the superior Commander-in-Chief in addition to economic steward?

Party politics aside, it should not be surprising that Powell would endorse Obama's approach to foreign policy. If one looks at Obama's plan and approach, it fits neatly into America's Best Practices book of Foreign Policy. You know, the approach that made America a widely admired and respected super power. Contrary to Sarah Palin's views on the matter, Obama is no radical in any sense of the word. In terms of foreign policy, Obama's approach is more equivalent to Reagan than even to Clinton. Obama's plan only could seem radical when looked at in contrast to the original Bush doctrine (and, arguably, McCain's proposed doctrine).

It remains to be seen what will happen on Sunday, but if the tea leaves are being read properly, Joe the Plumber just went down the Drain-O.