As political observers parse The Endorsement, the unspoken element is the payback of Colin Powell, no matter how much he denies it, for the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Dick Cheney's gang in being forced to act as UN point man in justifying the invasion of Iraq with cooked intelligence.
Yes, Powell gives Obama credibility as commander-in-chief and a leader who will be able to reach across party lines. No, contrary to Rush Limbaugh et al, the endorsement is not racially based.
But behind Powell's calm, rational demeanor in explaining his decision on Meet the Press yesterday, he would be less than human if his own treatment by the Bush Administration was not involved in his thinking and, more to the point, feeling.
Before Iraq, Powell was the one of the most admired men in America, who might have been nominated for President in 1996 if he agreed to run. Today he is remembered for that February 2003 speech that misled Americans into believing Saddam Hussein had WMDs.
Before making the speech, Powell had spent a week wrestling with the White House staff, discarding what Dick Cheney had called Scooter Libby’s stuff and other “garbage” from the likes of Ahmed Chalabi.
Earlier Cheney had made it clear he and Bush were using Powell’s credibility to sell the war. Poking him in the chest, the Vice President told Powell, "You've got high poll ratings, you can afford to lose a few points."
In the end, Powell made the speech and lost much more--his reputation as a man of honor after a lifetime of public service.
If revenge is a dish best served cold, Powell has put it on the table after five years for those he called the GOP "crazies" to eat at just the right time.