Endorsements don’t usually matter in presidential races, said Mike Murphy in Time online, but Colin Powell’s strong endorsement of Barack Obama (click here for NBC's video via YouTube) “is a real sledgehammer blow to the already staggering McCain campaign.” It shores up Obama’s “shaky foreign policy bona fides,” but worse for McCain, it was “an across the board indictment” of his campaign—the Sarah Palin pick, its increasingly “dark tone,” and the “Helter Skelter antics” on the economic crisis.

Based on Powell’s views, the endorsement doesn’t make sense, said Carol Platt Liebau in Townhall. Why would an anti-tax, small-government Republican back “the farthest-left candidate ever to run for president”? “He claims it isn’t race,” so why then?

He explains his “full-throated endorsement” very clearly, said Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post online. Basically, the Republican Party and McCain have moved too far to the right. And once decided, Powell applied his wartime tactic of “overwhelming force” meant to “assure the demolition or capitulation of one's enemy.” Given the timing and substance, it’s not clear how McCain can recover.

Powell’s endorsement would have had more force in the summer, said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, when foreign policy was the No. 1 issue. With the economy on top, “Joe the Plumber has more resonance than Colin Powell” now. The endorsement gives Obama “a boost and certainly some gravitas,” but it won’t change anything.

If the McCain campaign says “they’d rather have Joe the Plumber’s endorsement,” said David Weigel in Reason online, they’re spinning this poorly. In fairness, “the Powell endorsement shouldn’t be all good for Obama”—Powell’s time as Bush’s secretary of state was “a disaster.” But he’s a “folk hero,” and this sets McCain back when he can least afford it.