Sunday, 19 October 2008

Editorials of Major US Newspapers: WHY BARACK OBAMA Should Be Elected the 44th President of the United States

[Note: Newspaper market statistics put Obama's endorsement tally by US newspapers at 55 and McCain's at 16 as of 18th October 2008 ]

From Chicago Sun-Times

Sun-Times endorses Barack Obama for president

Read here

Americans are ready to be one country. By the millions, they yearn to bridge their differences, to find common cause, to rise above ideology, race, class and religion.

They have grown weary of the culture wars and the personal attacks, tired of the exaggerated lines that divide. They dare to imagine a more constructive discourse, a debate marked by civility and respect even in disagreement, a politics that begins with listening to each other.

Nothing else so fully explains the meteoric rise of Sen. Barack Obama. If America had preferred a master of policy for its next president, Sen. Hillary Clinton would have won the Democratic nomination. If America valued experience in public life above all else, Sen. John McCain would be trouncing Sen. Obama in the polls.

But it is Sen. Obama who won his party's nomination, and it is he who leads in the polls. Americans across the land want to pull together, and in Sen. Obama they see a man of exceptional gifts who just might show them how.

Our endorsement for president of the United States goes to Sen. Barack Obama, Chicago's adopted son. He has the unique background, superior intellect, sound judgment and first-rate temperament to lead our nation in difficult times.

Through the eyes of others

Sen. Obama's strengths begin with the unusual circumstances of his childhood, a biracial and cross-cultural upbringing that imbued in him a remarkable ability to see the world through the eyes of others. A now-familiar story is told of how the young Barack, as the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review, would go around the table listening to all views on an issue. Then he would gesture toward the quietest person in the room and ask, "Bob, what do you think?" He called the shots, but was confident enough to hear out those with whom he might disagree.

Sen. Obama's remarkable talent for hearing all the disparate voices of America was perhaps nowhere more evident than on March 18 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, when he delivered an instantly historic speech on race relations. As millions of Americans watched and nodded, he boldly challenged whites and blacks to see the truth in the other's perspective.

Guided by these same cross-cultural instincts, Sen. Obama climbed the ladder of Chicago Democratic politics -- from community organizer to state senator to U.S. senator -- while dodging the tag of "machine-made." We watched in admiration, here in Chicago, as he developed alliances with the old Harold Washington coalition, but also with party stalwarts such as state Sen. Emil Jones. He mostly steered clear of unwise political entanglements, and when he did use poor judgment, he learned from his mistake. The senator no doubt learned to appreciate the enormous importance of transparency in politics when he was dogged by questions about his relationship with Tony Rezko, the political fixer. When he finally sat down with the Sun-Times and answered every question, the Rezko story lost its steam.

Right on the issues

We agree with Sen. Obama on many of the most pressing issues of the day.

He is right when he says America must be open to talking to its adversaries. He is right when he says America must lose the swagger abroad and repair its standing in the world. He is right when he says America must stand with Israel.

Sen. Obama is right in his prescriptions for the economy, though they need expansion and vetting. He is right in his compassionate but fiscally prudent plan -- unlike Sen. McCain's plan -- to help millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure.

And Sen. Obama is right on energy policy. We support his proposals to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by a host of means -- domestic drilling and nuclear energy, to be sure, but also an unprecedented national commitment to developing wind power, solar power and other forms of "clean" energy.

Tested in a marathon

It is a peculiar virtue of a marathon presidential campaign that the ordeal itself becomes a powerful test of who has the right stuff -- and Sen. Obama has won that test hands down.

From the moment he announced his candidacy, on a cold Saturday in Springfield in February 2007, he has demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills, grace under fire, laudable restraint and a sincere respect for the intelligence of the voter. He has surrounded himself with excellence -- imagine such competence moving into the West Wing -- and built what is perhaps the most effective ground organization in the history of presidential campaigns.

Sen. Obama writes his own best speeches. He refuses to play the "gotcha" game. He runs his own campaign -- it does not run him.

He has kept his cool while his opponent runs hot and cold. He shook off the advice from his senior advisers to "go negative" when the polls were more grim, the way President John F. Kennedy coolly rejected the overly bellicose advice of his generals in the heat of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of Sen. John McCain.

Sen. McCain is an American hero. His courage as a prisoner of war and his 26 years on Capitol Hill command our respect. Anybody who happened to notice him struggle to shake hands with moderator Bob Schieffer at the end of the third debate had to be moved.

But somewhere along the line, McCain stopped being McCain. The maverick who always thought for himself turned his thinking over to others. He cared too much about winning.

He reversed his position on major social issues to curry favor with the Republican base. He pulled silly surprises from a hat, such as "suspending" his campaign. Most egregiously for a man of advanced age who knew how important this decision could be, he chose the unqualified Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice president.

Right for the times

Often in America's most difficult days, the nation has been blessed with extraordinary leaders who seemed just right for the times. We have in mind George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The times again demand an extraordinary leader. Our next president will take the oath of office in a country that is at war, heavily in debt, deeply divided and sliding into a recession. He will have to make hard choices -- the money won't be there for all his ambitious plans -- and he will have to work with a Congress so lopsidedly Democratic that it may be veto-proof.

Here in Chicago, we have been watching Barack Obama and sizing him up for some time. We knew him well before he introduced himself to the nation with his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

We saw the strength of character, the steady temperament, the intellect, the compassion, the ability to see through others' eyes.

The very title of Sen. Obama's second book, The Audacity of Hope, foretold what America will need in the circumstances under which the next president takes office.

Success will require audacity, in all the best meanings of the word: nerve, spunk, grit and, especially, boldness.

And success will require a president and a people ready to embrace hope, in all the best meanings of that word: A conviction that what we want and need can be had.

Barack Obama believes in the audacity of hope. He inspires it in others. He inspires it in us.

Barack Obama should be the next president of the United States of America.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Read here


Jay Bookman, Cynthia Tucker for the editorial board.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution -Georgia

Sunday, October 19, 2008
The 44th president of the United States will take office in an uncertain and dangerous time for this country. The challenges we face both overseas and here at home are complex and unfamiliar, and the road ahead is likely to be very different from the road we have traveled to get here.

Leading the country in such a time will require someone of intellect, creativity, honesty and passion for those traits that have made America great. That person is U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

In the past eight years, the policies and ideologies that have animated the Bush administration have proved disastrous in almost every field of endeavor, from foreign policy to economics to relatively straightforward tasks such as responding to natural disasters. As a consequence, President Bush’s approval rating is as low as or lower than that of any other president in the history of polling.

Naturally, both Obama and his opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain, have promised to take the country in a new direction. Both are honorable men fully qualified and competent to be president.

McCain, however, faces a hurdle in his claim to be an agent of change because he shares a political party with Bush. To offset that fact, McCain has wisely chosen to campaign on his reputation as a maverick, a reputation that he once fully deserved.

However, in his current role as Republican nominee, McCain has yet to explain how most of his proposed policies and approaches differ from those of the current president. From deregulation of Wall Street and tax cuts that favor the richest 5 percent of Americans to a more aggressive foreign policy, McCain’s approach now reflects the same Republican orthodoxy that has governed this country since 2000. Time and again, he has been offered chances to explain how his philosophy differs from that of the current president, and he has not been able to do so.

And it’s not just a matter of policies. A third term under another Republican president would inevitably be populated by much the same cast of GOP staffers, executives and bureaucrats that has run Washington for so long and with such disastrous results. McCain’s campaign staff illustrates that problem perfectly because it is populated by many of the same people who ran previous Bush campaigns. They are also still trying to run the same basic Republican playbook that the party has used since 1980.

In fact, the competence of McCain’s campaign staff is itself cause to question the candidate’s executive abilities. To some degree, the rigors of creating and running a campaign organization can be a test of the skills needed to create and run an administration. And even many Republicans acknowledge that the McCain campaign has been poorly organized and erratic, lurching from one crisis to another without the sense of a strong hand at the tiller.

Columnist William Kristol, a longtime McCain backer, calls the McCain campaign “close to being out—-and—-out dysfunctional,” concluding that “its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic.”

And of course, the most unfortunate evidence of that “strategic incoherence and operational incompetence” was McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, a person utterly unprepared for the high post in question.

The contrast with the campaign run by Barack Obama could not be more stark. More than a year ago, when he was still a long shot without much money, Obama somehow managed to attract a staff talented and disciplined enough to defeat Hillary Clinton and the Clinton machine in the Democratic primaries. It has since gone on to demonstrate a great deal of political discipline, skill and innovation, running a 21st century campaign that appeals to 21st century America.

Different challenges require different strengths. Obama has demonstrated a calm, thoughtful leadership style that fits this time and this challenge well. He has laid out a wiser, more measured approach toward foreign policy that elevates diplomacy and negotiation while reserving the use of force if necessary to protect this country and its allies in a dangerous world. He understands that international respect and admiration can’t be forced at gunpoint.

Economically, Obama is better equipped to deal with a rapidly changing global situation, and his policies focus directly on the problems confronting the American working and middle classes. His tax plan, for example, proposes to cut taxes on 95 percent of American households while raising taxes only on households with an income of more than $250,000. That plan may have to be adjusted in light of a harsh new fiscal reality, but it demonstrates where Obama’s instincts and values lead him.

The same is true of his health-care proposal. It requires a comprehensive approach, including financial assistance to help small businesses buy insurance for their employees. It would also require large employers that do not offer health insurance to help their workers with the cost of buying insurance on their own.

Those are new approaches, crafted by a new generation of leaders drawn to Obama by the chance to write their own chapter in the American story. Their time has come. His time has come. Obama is a leader of rare potential, and that’s precisely what the job of our 44th president demands.

From the Houston Chronicle - Texas

The presidential ticket
Read here

The Houston Chronicle

Oct. 18, 2008,
Rarely in our country's history has the electorate gone to the polls to choose a new president in such challenging times with more at stake for the nation.

The economy is tottering under the strains of a global financial crisis unleashed by the unregulated excesses of U.S. lending institutions. American soldiers continue to fight and die in two separate conflicts that remain open-ended.

At home affordable health care is unavailable to millions of citizens while measures to achieve energy independence and combat global warming sit on the legislative back burner. Fear pervades so many households under the threat of unemployment and mortgage foreclosures.

One must go back to the Great Depression, and the reshaping of American domestic policy to vanquish it, to find a comparable era when the demands for change were so urgent.

The incoming administration must immediately focus and engage on so many fronts. The tasks at hand will require stamina, creativity and leadership abilities to replace partisan gridlock with a national consensus on what is best for the American people. The new leadership team must have the intellect and temperament to tackle complex issues with equally sophisticated solutions. The current go-it-alone mentality in the White House on foreign policy must give way to an effort to work in concert with our allies while engaging our enemies at the negotiating table as well as on the battlefield.

After carefully observing the Democratic and Republican nominees in drawn-out primary struggles as well as in the general campaign, including three debates, the Chronicle strongly believes that the ticket of Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden offers the best choice to lead the United States on a new course into the second decade of the 21st century.

Obama appears to possess the tools to confront our myriad and daunting problems. He's thoughtful and analytical. He has met his opponents' attacks with calm and reasoned responses. Viewers of the debates saw a poised, well-prepared plausible president with well-articulated positions on the bread-and-butter issues that poll after poll indicate are the true concerns of voters. While Arizona Sen. John McCain and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have struck an increasingly personal and negative tone in their speeches, Obama has continued to talk about issues of substance.

It is true that Obama has served less than a term in the U.S. Senate and that his previous elective experience is confined to the Illinois Legislature. However, during that public service and his previous role as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago, he has developed an appreciation and understanding of the real-life concerns of middle- and low-income Americans.

On the Iraq war, Obama was an early voice of opposition to the initial invasion and his plan for a phased withdrawal of combat forces has been embraced by American and Iraqi policymakers. His partner on the ticket, Biden, is one of the leading foreign policy experts in Congress. They pledge to rebuild America's diminished standing in the world and restore our reputation as the leading defender of democracy and human rights.

Obama's health care plan mandates health insurance for all American children, an issue of vital importance to Harris County and Houston, which has the highest rate of uninsured youngsters in the nation. By contrast, the proposal by McCain to offer a tax credit to Americans to purchase insurance while taxing health benefits for the first time will further discourage small business owners from providing employee health insurance.

One weakness Obama has shown is a tendency to demonize the energy industry, which will be an indispensable ally in developing alternative fuel sources in the future. He would do well to rethink some of his positions and apply his consensus-building skills to an essential bulwark of the Texas economy. On another issue of vital importance to the Houston area, Obama supports the U.S. space program and has wisely backed off an earlier proposal to delay NASA's moon and Mars missions to save money.

McCain has an illustrious record of service to America, first as a pilot taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese, and then with a distinguished Senate career. To his credit, he has broken with his own party in the past to fight for campaign reform, oppose the sanctioning of torture and acknowledge the threat of human-induced global warming. However, in his bid for the presidency, he has aligned himself with a more conservative political base and disappointed moderates.

Perhaps the worst mistake McCain made in his campaign for the White House was the choice of the inexperienced and inflammatory Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. Had he selected a moderate, experienced Republican lawmaker such as Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison with a strong appeal to independents, the Chronicle's choice for an endorsement would have been far more difficult.

In comments to the Chronicle editorial board during his Texas primary fight against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama explained why he believed he would be the best choice for president.

"More than any other candidate, I could bridge some of the partisan, racial and religious divides in this country that prevent us from getting things done," said Obama. "I believe that I could attract independents and some disillusioned Republicans into a working majority to bring about change on critical issues."

Back in the spring, Obama's sentiments seemed more a hope than reality. Since then, we have watched him grow in the roles of candidate and leader, maintaining grace under fire without resorting to political expediency. He is by far the best choice to deliver the changes that Americans demand.

From Los Angeles Times

Barack Obama for president

Read here

October 19, 2008
It is inherent in the American character to aspire to greatness, so it can be disorienting when the nation stumbles or loses confidence in bedrock principles or institutions. That's where the United States is as it prepares to select a new president: We have seen the government take a stake in venerable private financial houses; we have witnessed eight years of executive branch power grabs and erosion of civil liberties; we are still recovering from a murderous attack by terrorists on our own soil and still struggling with how best to prevent a recurrence.

We need a leader who demonstrates thoughtful calm and grace under pressure, one not prone to volatile gesture or capricious pronouncement. We need a leader well-grounded in the intellectual and legal foundations of American freedom. Yet we ask that the same person also possess the spark and passion to inspire the best within us: creativity, generosity and a fierce defense of justice and liberty.

Our nation has never before had a candidate like Obama, a man born in the 1960s, of black African and white heritage, raised and educated abroad as well as in the United States, and bringing with him a personal narrative that encompasses much of the American story but that, until now, has been reflected in little of its elected leadership. The excitement of Obama's early campaign was amplified by that newness. But as the presidential race draws to its conclusion, it is Obama's character and temperament that come to the fore. It is his steadiness. His maturity.

These are qualities American leadership has sorely lacked for close to a decade. The Constitution, more than two centuries old, now offers the world one of its more mature and certainly most stable governments, but our political culture is still struggling to shake off a brash and unseemly adolescence. In George W. Bush, the executive branch turned its back on an adult role in the nation and the world and retreated into self-absorbed unilateralism.

John McCain distinguished himself through much of the Bush presidency by speaking out against reckless and self-defeating policies. He earned The Times' respect, and our endorsement in the California Republican primary, for his denunciation of torture, his readiness to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and his willingness to buck his party on issues such as immigration reform. But the man known for his sense of honor and consistency has since announced that he wouldn't vote for his own immigration bill, and he redefined "torture" in such a disingenuous way as to nearly embrace what he once abhorred.

Indeed, the presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory. The decision calls into question just what kind of thinking -- if that's the appropriate word -- would drive the White House in a McCain presidency. Fortunately, the public has shown more discernment, and the early enthusiasm for Palin has given way to national ridicule of her candidacy and McCain's judgment.

Obama's selection also was telling. He might have scored a steeper bump in the polls by making a more dramatic choice than the capable and experienced Joe Biden. But for all the excitement of his own candidacy, Obama has offered more competence than drama.

He is no lone rider. He is a consensus-builder, a leader. As a constitutional scholar, he has articulated a respect for the rule of law and the limited power of the executive that make him the best hope of restoring balance and process to the Justice Department. He is a Democrat, leaning further left than right, and that should be reflected in his nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a good thing; the court operates best when it is ideologically balanced. With its present alignment at seven justices named by Republicans and two by Democrats, it is due for a tug from the left.

We are not sanguine about Obama's economic policies. He speaks with populist sweep about taxing oil companies to give middle-class families rebates that of course they would welcome, but would be far too small to stimulate the economy. His ideas on taxation do not stray far from those put forward by Democrats over the last several decades. His response to the most recent, and drastic, fallout of the sub- prime mortgage meltdown has been appropriately cautious; this is uncharted territory, and Obama is not a master of economic theory or practice.

And that's fine. Obama inspires confidence not so much in his grasp of Wall Street finance but in his acknowledgment of and comfort with his lack of expertise. He will not be one to forge far-reaching economic policy without sounding out the best thinkers and practitioners, and he has many at his disposal. He has won the backing of some on Wall Street not because he's one of them but because they recognize his talent for extracting from a broad range of proposals a coherent and workable program.

On paper, McCain presents the type of economic program The Times has repeatedly backed: One that would ease the tax burden on business and other high earners most likely to invest in the economy and hire new workers. But he has been disturbingly unfocused in his response to the current financial situation, rushing to "suspend" his campaign and take action (although just what action never became clear). Having little to contribute, he instead chose to exploit the crisis.

We may one day look back on this presidential campaign in wonder. We may marvel that Obama's critics called him an elitist, as if an Ivy League education were a source of embarrassment, and belittled his eloquence, as if a gift with words were suddenly a defect. In fact, Obama is educated and eloquent, sober and exciting, steady and mature. He represents the nation as it is, and as it aspires to be.

From Washington Post

Barack Obama for President

Read here

October 17, 2008
THE NOMINATING process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president.

The choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president. It is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes.

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good.

The first question, in fact, might be why either man wants the job. Start with two ongoing wars, both far from being won; an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan; a resurgent Russia menacing its neighbors; a terrorist-supporting Iran racing toward nuclear status; a roiling Middle East; a rising China seeking its place in the world. Stir in the threat of nuclear or biological terrorism, the burdens of global poverty and disease, and accelerating climate change. Domestically, wages have stagnated while public education is failing a generation of urban, mostly minority children. Now add the possibility of the deepest economic trough since the Great Depression.

Not even his fiercest critics would blame President Bush for all of these problems, and we are far from being his fiercest critic. But for the past eight years, his administration, while pursuing some worthy policies (accountability in education, homeland security, the promotion of freedom abroad), has also championed some stunningly wrongheaded ones (fiscal recklessness, torture, utter disregard for the planet's ecological health) and has acted too often with incompetence, arrogance or both. A McCain presidency would not equal four more years, but outside of his inner circle, Mr. McCain would draw on many of the same policymakers who have brought us to our current state. We believe they have richly earned, and might even benefit from, some years in the political wilderness.

OF COURSE, Mr. Obama offers a great deal more than being not a Republican. There are two sets of issues that matter most in judging these candidacies. The first has to do with restoring and promoting prosperity and sharing its fruits more evenly in a globalizing era that has suppressed wages and heightened inequality. Here the choice is not a close call. Mr. McCain has little interest in economics and no apparent feel for the topic. His principal proposal, doubling down on the Bush tax cuts, would exacerbate the fiscal wreckage and the inequality simultaneously. Mr. Obama's economic plan contains its share of unaffordable promises, but it pushes more in the direction of fairness and fiscal health. Both men have pledged to tackle climate change.

Mr. Obama also understands that the most important single counter to inequality, and the best way to maintain American competitiveness, is improved education, another subject of only modest interest to Mr. McCain. Mr. Obama would focus attention on early education and on helping families so that another generation of poor children doesn't lose out. His budgets would be less likely to squeeze out important programs such as Head Start and Pell grants. Though he has been less definitive than we would like, he supports accountability measures for public schools and providing parents choices by means of charter schools.

A better health-care system also is crucial to bolstering U.S. competitiveness and relieving worker insecurity. Mr. McCain is right to advocate an end to the tax favoritism showed to employer plans. This system works against lower-income people, and Mr. Obama has disparaged the McCain proposal in deceptive ways. But Mr. McCain's health plan doesn't do enough to protect those who cannot afford health insurance. Mr. Obama hopes to steer the country toward universal coverage by charting a course between government mandates and individual choice, though we question whether his plan is affordable or does enough to contain costs.

The next president is apt to have the chance to nominate one or more Supreme Court justices. Given the court's current precarious balance, we think Obama appointees could have a positive impact on issues from detention policy and executive power to privacy protections and civil rights.

Overshadowing all of these policy choices may be the financial crisis and the recession it is likely to spawn. It is almost impossible to predict what policies will be called for by January, but certainly the country will want in its president a combination of nimbleness and steadfastness -- precisely the qualities Mr. Obama has displayed during the past few weeks. When he might have been scoring political points against the incumbent, he instead responsibly urged fellow Democrats in Congress to back Mr. Bush's financial rescue plan. He has surrounded himself with top-notch, experienced, centrist economic advisers -- perhaps the best warranty that, unlike some past presidents of modest experience, Mr. Obama will not ride into town determined to reinvent every policy wheel. Some have disparaged Mr. Obama as too cool, but his unflappability over the past few weeks -- indeed, over two years of campaigning -- strikes us as exactly what Americans might want in their president at a time of great uncertainty.

ON THE SECOND set of issues, having to do with keeping America safe in a dangerous world, it is a closer call. Mr. McCain has deep knowledge and a longstanding commitment to promoting U.S. leadership and values.

But Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and America's place in it. He, too, is committed to maintaining U.S. leadership and sticking up for democratic values, as his recent defense of tiny Georgia makes clear. We hope he would navigate between the amoral realism of some in his party and the counterproductive cocksureness of the current administration, especially in its first term. On most policies, such as the need to go after al-Qaeda, check Iran's nuclear ambitions and fight HIV/AIDS abroad, he differs little from Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain. But he promises defter diplomacy and greater commitment to allies. His team overstates the likelihood that either of those can produce dramatically better results, but both are certainly worth trying.

Mr. Obama's greatest deviation from current policy is also our biggest worry: his insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq on a fixed timeline. Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years in office. But if it isn't -- and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal -- we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans.

We also can only hope that the alarming anti-trade rhetoric we have heard from Mr. Obama during the campaign would give way to the understanding of the benefits of trade reflected in his writings. A silver lining of the financial crisis may be the flexibility it gives Mr. Obama to override some of the interest groups and members of Congress in his own party who oppose open trade, as well as to pursue the entitlement reform that he surely understands is needed.

IT GIVES US no pleasure to oppose Mr. McCain. Over the years, he has been a force for principle and bipartisanship. He fought to recognize Vietnam, though some of his fellow ex-POWs vilified him for it. He stood up for humane immigration reform, though he knew Republican primary voters would punish him for it. He opposed torture and promoted campaign finance reform, a cause that Mr. Obama injured when he broke his promise to accept public financing in the general election campaign. Mr. McCain staked his career on finding a strategy for success in Iraq when just about everyone else in Washington was ready to give up. We think that he, too, might make a pretty good president.

But the stress of a campaign can reveal some essential truths, and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is far from reassuring. To pass his party's tax-cut litmus test, he jettisoned his commitment to balanced budgets. He hasn't come up with a coherent agenda, and at times he has seemed rash and impulsive. And we find no way to square his professed passion for America's national security with his choice of a running mate who, no matter what her other strengths, is not prepared to be commander in chief.

ANY PRESIDENTIAL vote is a gamble, and Mr. Obama's résumé is undoubtedly thin. We had hoped, throughout this long campaign, to see more evidence that Mr. Obama might stand up to Democratic orthodoxy and end, as he said in his announcement speech, "our chronic avoidance of tough decisions."

But Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

From The Free Press - (Detroit Michigan)

Free Press endorses Obama for president

Read here

October 18, 2008

Good judgment makes good presidents.

A chief executive's ability to be steady yet decisive, and thoughtful when bravado might be enticing, can be the difference between success and disaster in the Oval Office. It's more important than experience, which can be mistakenly equated with wisdom.

So the choice Americans face in the Nov. 4 presidential election is a clear one: between the relatively inexperienced Democratic senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who has shown a knack for developing well-reasoned solutions to the nation's many critical problems, and John McCain, the longtime Republican senator from Arizona, a genuine American war hero with a creditable streak of political independence, who has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive and bullheaded as a political leader.

At a time when America clearly needs some changes, Obama is not only proposing better ones but is also better suited to the job of getting them done. The Free Press endorses Democrat BARACK OBAMA for president.

Despite his relatively short time in public office, Obama, 47, has over the course of the general election campaign steadily articulated a progressive, pragmatic vision for this country, keyed to opportunities for the middle class, and demonstrated time and again that his approach to things is grounded in deliberation and reflection. He's a man clearly open to ideas and willing to search for the right answer to a problem rather than pursuing the expedient one.

His mantra of "change" is rooted in a well-grounded perspective on governing and leadership.

These qualities will serve well a country that's hungry for a unified, hopeful vision.

Issue No. 1: Economic recovery

On the economy, issue No. 1 for most Americans, Obama's recovery plan more openly acknowledges the reality of the current situation: that it won't be fixed easily, or without sacrifice. He proposes massive investment -- in infrastructure, education and alternative energy development -- to create jobs, but also to better position the American economy for global competition.

While promising a tax cut for most Americans, Obama also has been clear about the need to raise taxes on the richest Americans, and to reprioritize spending in Washington. He is a disciple of the pay-as-you-go approach to federal spending that helped produce a budget surplus in the '90s, and he supports targeted spending cuts rather than the broad freeze proposed by McCain -- a scalpel instead of hatchet, as the candidates put it in their final debate Wednesday.

As the current economic crisis burst on Washington and Wall Street last month, Obama's response was measured, rather than panicky, and insightful where it needed to be. He has focused on correcting the massive deregulation of the financial markets that figured in the Wall Street meltdown, while also promising to provide relief to home owners threatened with foreclosure.

Notably, while McCain made a show of suspending his campaign and even asked to call off their first debate so he could rush to Washington for the Wall Street bailout debate, Obama stayed on the campaign trail, offering solutions and correctly pointing out that a president must be able to juggle multiple tasks.

On other key domestic issues with direct impacts on Michigan, Obama's health care plan is also crafted around a cautious reality that Americans won't accept a government-run system. He would augment private insurance with a government-funded plan for those who don't have coverage. On trade, he promises to be a better, tougher negotiator for American products. Obama also has come around on federal assistance and encouragement for U.S. manufacturing, especially the auto industry, which has emerged as a key player in his big plans for a 10-year project to increase the country's energy independence.

More reasoned on foreign policy

Foreign policy was supposed to be Obama's weakness, given his newness to the Senate and lack of other service that would have given him first-hand exposure.

But he has emerged as the more sophisticated thinker on the subject and would set a course for the nation that balances humility and humanity with strength, leadership and collaboration.

Obama would pursue a more certain end with the war in Iraq so the American military can focus more on Afghanistan and other nations with more direct connections to terrorism.

He would abandon the hard-line stonewalling adopted by President George W. Bush toward America's enemies, saying an open approach to negotiations will be more effective. Obama's stance here strongly reflects his belief that dialogue and openness, even with those who are virulent or violently disagree, don't equate with weakness. Failure to recognize that has been one of Bush's most abject failures.

McCain takes disappointing turn

McCain, 72, a surprise victor in the Republican primaries, has been a disappointing contrast to Obama almost from the start of the general election campaign.

His run for the presidency was launched with not only his compelling personal story but McCain's strong credentials as an independent Republican legislator. But since late summer, the campaign has been marked by stunts and gimmicks, gaffes and shifts that call into question McCain's temperament and, most of all, his judgment.

One of his greatest miscalculations was the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, a pick McCain made after just two meetings and a phone call with the Alaska governor, not yet two years into her first term.

Palin was exciting initially, a potential voice for change, and someone who shared McCain's "maverick" sensibilities.

But in the weeks since her selection, she has been revealed as not much more than a sideshow, someone with very limited range on issues and almost none of the depth expected in a cabinet secretary, let alone vice president, or president.

McCain has also shown his impulsiveness on policy matters.

Foreign affairs were supposed to be his strong suit, but he has embraced an icy Cold War mentality that could prove dangerous in a world rocked by a more modern political and cultural volatility. He famously joked about bombing Iran. He has resisted admitting that the Iraq war is a costly distraction from the real business of fighting terrorism, vowing to stay until "victory" is achieved. He irresponsibly reduced former Russian President Vladimir Putin to a caricature, saying he saw three letters, "K-G-B," when he looked into his eyes.

And during the first debate, which was focused on foreign affairs, McCain was nearly bellicose in his saber-rattling, talking very tough but without much context or nuance about America's place in the world, and its needs going forward.

The Free Press has twice endorsed McCain for the Republican presidential nomination, in 2000 and this year. The McCain running against Obama in this general election has not been the same candidate; he has been nastier, less consistent and, since his acceptance speech at the GOP National Convention, frankly uninspiring.

His campaign suggests McCain would be a president given to instinct, good or bad, and the shunning of advice and consensus.

Senate colleagues quietly agree, describing McCain as quick-tempered -- although his outbursts rarely last long -- and inclined to make instant decisions, then backfill to defend them.

Obama, by contrast, is said to hear out all points of view and deliberate, sometimes too long, before drawing a conclusion. Each style has its advantages in given situations, but in the White House, where executive decisions can have instant, global impact, Obama's way will be less risky more often -- and a welcome change after eight years of a president who proudly relies on gut instinct.

That Obama would be the first African American elected president is of no policy import, but would be a symbol of American progress, to people in this country and around the world. That he is relatively young and a gifted speaker is also of little substantive importance, though his soaring rhetoric and hopeful outlook could be beneficial in rallying Americans to face today's challenges together.

But his judgment, across the board, is what makes BARACK OBAMA the stronger candidate to be America's 44th president.
From Salt Lake Tribune

A simple choice: The nation needs Barack Obama in the White House

Read here
The next U.S. president will lead a nation that remains embroiled in two wars and is beset by an economic meltdown more severe than any since the Great Depression.

By necessity, the country's next commander in chief must also be its mender in chief, capable of inspiring his angry and divided constituents to join together in a recovery project to restore the peace, prosperity and self-confidence we once knew.

We fear that a lesser effort may be insufficient to reverse America's slide toward economic, political and societal chaos. The times require dramatic and comprehensive change.

The presidential candidates know it, and have made it their mantra. Most Americans know it, and, in growing numbers, are demanding it.

The countries that have long depended upon the United States for enlightened global leadership long for it. For the sake of all, and for those who follow us, we must have it.
The editorial board of The Salt Lake Tribune believes that Barack Obama can deliver it.

Over the 22 months since announcing his improbable candidacy, Obama has transcended his image as a mere political and racial phenomenon. Though blessed with uncommon skills as a writer and orator, he was mistakenly thought to possess too little political experience, too little backbone and too little evidence of the tangible,
and intangible, qualities we ascribe to the best of our leaders. Democrats and Republicans alike thought Hillary Clinton would make short work of him.

Admittedly, we thought so, too, and endorsed Clinton, not Obama, for the party's nomination.

Yet, Obama mounted an extraordinary grass-roots campaign, raised gobs of cash, and showed great fortitude and equanimity in the face of the Clinton juggernaut. He endured, and once the nomination was his, he set about uniting his divided party with an impressive display of magnanimity and diplomacy.

John McCain, meanwhile, crushed Mitt Romney to gain his party's nomination, but then blundered badly by not bringing the business-savvy Romney onto the ticket. Romney would have shored up McCain's poor grasp of economic policy.

Then, out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.

Still, we have compelling reasons for endorsing Obama on his merits alone. Under the most intense scrutiny and attacks from both parties, Obama has shown the temperament, judgment, intellect and political acumen that are essential in a president that would lead the United States out of the crises created by President Bush, a complicit Congress and our own apathy.

The candidates' positions on issues are, in most cases, distinctly different, and no more so than in health care reform. McCain would make a bad system worse by deregulating an insurance industry that is the root of the problem.

He would give every family a $5,000 refundable tax credit for purchasing the insurance of their choice, but would tax employer-provided health benefits. Obama's plan would require large employers to offer insurance, or contribute a percentage of payroll to offset the cost of taxpayer subsidies. People could buy into a private or a government-run plan, and the premiums would be subsidized by tax credits based on income.

On tax policy, Obama would sensibly increase taxes for individuals making more than $250,000 a year, while cutting taxes for everyone else. He also would send money to the states for public works improvements that would generate jobs. His intent to increase the capital gains tax, however, is foolhardy while businesses struggle to weather the economic meltdown.

McCain would cut taxes for people in all income brackets, as well as mandate big reductions in corporate income taxes. It is a trickle-down plan that would do little to reduce the deficit.

McCain's foreign policy objectives virtually replicate Bush's disastrous course. His disdain for diplomacy is troubling, and his faith in eventual U.S. "victory" in Iraq is ill-defined. We simply cannot afford perpetual war. Obama knows this. And his nuanced approach would help America recover it's global prestige.

Indeed, we see too many of Bush's failed policies in McCain's recipe for recovery. The country desperately needs a new and well-defined road map for the 21st century and leadership that can unite the country behind it.

We believe that Barack Obama can give us both.

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