From First Read:
Not only did Colin Powell endorse Obama yesterday on Meet the Press; he also fired the first big shot in the post-election fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. “I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years,” he said. “It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that’s a choice the party makes.” Win or lose in November, the GOP is going to go through an identity crisis. And especially if McCain loses, it’s going to be one ugly period in the history of the Republican Party. It took the GOP some 16 years to truly find its soul post-Goldwater, the last Arizona senator to lead the Republican ticket. By the way, Powell’s rejection of Palin — “I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president” — will probably lead to more anti-Palin commentary from the right. And a third debate Powell started (which has been incredibly underreported) was his defense of being Muslim in America. He did something that Obama has hesitated to do when attacked for being a Muslim: defended the religion. As for the impact of Powell on voters, it’s probably tough to measure. Voters usually don’t believe they are ever moved by endorsements but it can reassure soft supporters. Moreover, it’s the impact Powell will have on the news cycle with the opinion intelligentsia that should Obama the most over the next few days.
Me: My comments about the “pundit wars” notwithstanding, any suggestion that Colin Powell (whom I admire and respect) represents a sizable or serious faction of the GOP faithful is almost surely a gross overstatement. There may indeed be a war for the soul of the party in the offing, but a resurgence of Rockefeller Republicanism (which is basically Powell’s cup of tea) is very unlikely. Indeed, outside commentators opining on the direction of the right might like to keep in mind that most leading conservatives and activists do not believe that Bush was too “right wing” or even particularly rightwing at all on domestic policy, and that most of them believe that McCain was as close to a moderate Republican they could stomach. Gergenism is not on the horizon for the GOP.