Robert Novak anticipates some additions to the ranks of conservatives for Obama — though he acknowledges that one problem with counting Colin Powell as a potential Obamacon is that the former secretary of state is not actually a conservative. Says Novak,
The prototypical Obamacon may be Larry Hunter, familiar inside the Washington Beltway as an ardent supply-sider. When it became known recently that Hunter supports Obama, fellow conservatives were stunned. Hunter was fired as U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief economist in 1993 when he would not swallow Clinton administration policy, and later joined Jack Kemp at Empower America (ghostwriting Kemp’s column). Explaining his support for the uncompromising liberal Obama, Hunter blogged on June 6: “The Republican Party is a dead rotting carcass with a few decrepit old leaders stumbling around like zombies in a horror version of Weekend With Bernie, handcuffed to a corpse.”
While he never would use such language, Colin Powell is said by friends to share Hunter’s analysis of the GOP. His tenuous 13-year relationship with the Republican Party, following his retirement from the Army, has ended. The national security adviser for Ronald Reagan left the present administration bitter about being ushered out of the State Department a year earlier than he wanted. As an African-American, friends say, Powell is sensitive to racial attacks on Obama and especially on his wife Michelle. While McCain strategists shrug off defections from Bruce Bartlett and Larry Hunter, they wince in anticipating headlines generated by Powell’s expected endorsement of Obama.
Novak is right that “Published reports listing additional Obamacons do not add up to tides of conservative Republicans leaving their party.” Yet he’s also correct in his conclusion: “Obamacons — little and big — are reason for concern by McCain. It also should cause soul-searching at the Bush White House to ponder who made the Republican Party so difficult a place for Republicans to stay.” There have always been conservatives dissatisfied with the GOP who have been willing to vote third party. (Or who have dreamed of starting new third parties.) But the Bush era has greatly amplified the number of conservatives doing the unthinkable — voting for liberal Democrats because the illiberal Republicans have become even worse.