The real reason?
Because he believes that Barack Obama is going to win. And not just win. The Obama presidency will be huge, not only history making but earth shattering. America will be back big time in the world. And the economy will eventually regain its footing and remember, to get re-elected it doesn’t have to be great, just better than it is now. Which means that for the next eight years Colin Powell will have a role to play and eight years is a long time. There will be plenty of opportunities. He needs just one to erase that ugly moment in the United Nations when he carried the water for the invasion of Iraq.
Powell has known for a long time that he cannot win the Republican presidential nomination, notwithstanding his powerful showings in national polls. He suffers from the same curse that tainted Rudolph Giuliani’s effort. He cannot get a big enough chunk of the Evangelical vote. Remember 42% of the general public claims to be born again Christians and sometimes it seems as if they are all Republicans living in Iowa. It is why Giuliani skipped Iowa, said he didn’t want to talk about his private life, and hoped on doing something in Florida, even thought he had to know such a strategy was a long shot at best. But unfortunately for Powell, the road to the GOP nomination still runs through Iowa.
In the 1990’s, Powell gave a now famous interview to Barbara Walters where he dissed the whole evangelical movement. I spoke with one of his more savvy staffers after it aired, someone well connected to American Catholic leaders. “There goes the presidency,” he said. And, indeed, some evangelical leaders of influence have never forgotten it. You can be sure any opponent would dig it up if Powell were to make a run for it in the Republican Party and show up in Iowa.
So if he cannot be the nominee of the GOP, why stay there? He has already been everything else there is to be. Secretary of Defense. Secretary of State. There is only one, albeit, long shot to the White House and that is in a party where an African American can win the nomination. And even if that is farfetched and unlikely, he will only expand his career by being one of the few major cabinet members to serve in both parties. He will end up a major figure of history, having played a major role in decades of American foreign policy. And most of all, he will erase that moment at the United Nations.
Maybe Obama will take him in the cabinet in the first round. But even if he passes, like he did on Hillary Clinton, eight years is a long time and eventually Obama will need him and Colin Powell’s moment will come. This decision was a no brainer. Oh yeah, his endorsement even helped Obama a little bit.
See, historical ranking of GWB and father: http://dougwead.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/george-h-w-bush-historical-ranking/