“Dog bites man”

What makes Glenn Reynolds think that Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama is a non-story? Is it some characteristic the two of them share?

Glenn Reynolds thinks that Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama is a case of “dog bites man.” I assume Reynolds is referring the opposite of the definition of news, rather than calling Gen. Powell a dog, but still I’m puzzled.

Like most retired military brass, Powell is a conservative. He’s also a lifelong Republican, a former Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, and someone widely mentioned as a Republican Presidential candidate in several previous election cycles. Powell has a long relationship with John McCain, and give him the $2300 maximum in the primaries. Powell strongly endorsed George W. Bush in 2000. To my knowledge, Powell has never before endorsed a Democrat for anything.

So what characteristic of Powell, or of Obama, or what characteristic that they share, makes the endorsement of Obama by Powell something so expected that it becomes a non-story? Surely Reynolds doesn’t mean to point out that Obama and Powell are both … highly patriotic, highly intelligent, and of unusually thoughtful disposition and temperate deportment. Does he?

Update A reader points out what should have been obvious to me: Powell’s endorsement is the natural product of the tribal loyalty that subsists among men who attended institutions of higher learning in Upper Manhattan.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com