It Matters

The CW and the TW on the Powell Endorsement

Powell's endorsement has low news value, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

Someone told me they were pooh-poohing this on Morning Joe today, even saying that Ross Perot’s endorsement of Mitt Romney was more interesting. Well, more interesting, maybe; interesting to find out that Perot is still alive and kicking, I guess. But this is preposterous.

Here’s the CW on Powell. Doesn’t matter. Only would’ve mattered if he’d endorsed Romney.

Here’s the TW (Tomasky Wisdom! Is that obnoxious? Slightly, but it’s slightly funny too, and it's catchy and it rhymes, so if you keep seeing CW vs TW, now you’ll know what it means). Without question, a Powell endorsement of Romney would have had ten, 20 times greater news value. If Powell had endorsed Romney this morning, that’s all cable news would be talking about all day.

But Americans and news people aren’t one and the same, thank God. Americans don't always assess something based solely on its news value. Americans still rate Powell rather highly. So even though his endorsement isn’t huge news per se, it simply doesn’t follow from that that it makes no difference outside our little bubble.

Ask yourself this. Is there really anyone out there in America who would listen to Ross Perot who was thinking of voting for Obama and will switch to Romney? No. There is no Perot/Obama crossover audience. But are there people out there who are still undecided but for whom Colin Powell’s view would be something they’d take into consideration? Of course there are. Many many thousands of them.

Doesn’t mean this endorsement is a game-changer. And certainly, if Powell had wanted it to have higher impact, he’d have done it this Sunday on Meet the Press, not on a morning show with low viewership. What’s important is what Powell said about Romney. That his economic policies are extreme and his foreign-policy views are, well, who knows really, because the guy says A one minute and B the next.

You conservatives out there. Do you actually like this guy? Put your Obama hatred to the side for a moment. I can imagine voting for Romney because you so hate Obama, and I can even imagine convincing oneself that he’d be a decent president, but I can’t imagine anyone enthusiastically liking the man.