Saturday, November 1, 2008

Political Sanity trumps Political Demagoguery: Newsday Endorses Barack Obama for President,0,6434543.story


Amidst all the maniacal racist hysteria coming from the McCain/Palin ticket --which has run one of the absolute worst and most dangerously irresponsible campaigns in modern American political history-- as well as from far too many of their incredibly ignorant, hypocritical, dishonest, and violently intolerant supporters--it's refreshing to know that one can still find rational, sane discussions of the real issues, challenges, and problems facing the American people (and the world). What follows is a well written, tightly argued, and well informed editorial endorsement of Obama by Newsday. It's astonishing to realize given the insane and pervasive far right wing rhetoric in this presidential race but in some parts of this crazy country some people really do still know how to think and articulate a coherent analysis of what is happening and why. Check it out...


Newsday editorial board endorses Barack Obama

November 1, 2008

Leading the nation through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, two wars and excruciating anxiety about what the future holds will demand intellect, judgment, pragmatism and the more intangible ability to nourish the American spirit.

The need to make fundamental changes in how we power our cars, heat our homes, pay our doctors, earn our livings and secure our retirements is unnerving. The times demand a president who can see promise beyond the peril and articulate that vision for the rest of us. We believe this profile best fits one candidate in this race for the White House: Democrat Barack Obama.

In this marathon of a campaign, Obama has shown the discipline and demeanor for the job. He has articulated a more compelling vision and strategy for the nation than has Republican John McCain, at a time when both are desperately needed. Obama has railed eloquently against the politics of fear and ideological combat, and promoted inclusiveness and cooperation. He has a strong grasp of the nation's economic problems, a more urgent commitment to the green energy revolution and a better plan for expanding access to health care. On issues such as Iraq, taxes and trade, he should practice the bipartisanship he promises, but has yet to demonstrate, by remaining open to alternative views. Still, on balance, Obama offers the better way forward.

When he launched his improbable presidential run, early impressions of the Illinois senator didn't go much beyond a man with limited experience who could deliver a great speech. Critics derided his ability to charge up a crowd with soaring rhetoric, calling it just talk. But it's more than that. Obama has an uncommon ability to explain and inspire. Those are vital components of national leadership as we struggle to understand and tame the complex economic forces eating away at the value of our homes and nest eggs, and making jobs and credit harder to come by.

Obama's relative inexperience was one reason we didn't endorse him in the Democratic primary, and it remains a concern: He's only three years removed from the Illinois State Senate. We are also critical of his decision to abandon a pledge to tap public campaign financing for his presidential run.

But organizing and running a national campaign is a tough test of executive ability -- one that Obama has passed impressively. We believe that he will be able to draw from his campaign and professional experience to hone conflicting ideas and philosophies into sharp policy prescriptions on the challenges the next president will face over the coming four years.


Obama demonstrated a noteworthy, clear-eyed approach to this issue last summer, when gas prices skyrocketed. As McCain and others called for a popular, temporary suspension of the federal gas tax, Obama resisted the urge to pander. His view -- that trying to ease the pain of price hikes wouldn't work and would retard efforts to wean the nation off fossil fuels -- wasn't popular. But he was right. And he was willing to take the political heat to advance the nation's long-term interest.

Obama understands the urgency of making the country less dependent on foreign oil, for both economic and national security reasons. He supports an all-out effort to develop sustainable, alternative fuels and green technology. He has also acknowledged the need to expand the use of nuclear power, and has reluctantly come to accept the need to drill more for oil here at home. McCain also supports developing alternative fuels and technology and expanding the use of nuclear power. And he says that the push for energy independence should proceed on all fronts. But he elevated increased domestic drilling to the top of his energy agenda when he made "drill baby drill" a campaign slogan, even though more domestic drilling won't do much to lower gas prices or anything to advance the key goal of energy independence.


Given the high-decibel debate over taxes, you'd think there were huge differences between what the candidates offer. There aren't, and in fact, neither plan may be realistic, given the deficit and the economic slowdown. Both Obama and McCain have proposed trillions of dollars in tax cuts over the next decade -- both for individuals and, in different ways, for small businesses. They agree on delivering tax relief for the middle class, defined as taxpayers earning less than $250,000 a year. But that's where Obama would draw the line.

McCain would extend the tax rates for everyone, including those earning over a quarter million a year, and add new corporate tax cuts for good measure.

On Long Island, with our high cost of living, close to 10 percent of households take in $250,000 or more. That's much higher than the national average of 2 percent. So some small business owners would be among those whose taxes Obama would raise. That's of considerable concern locally, because it would hamper their ability to create jobs, thus slowing the Island's economic growth. This is a case where one size doesn't fit all.


Both Obama and McCain recognize the importance of free trade to the nation's economy. But while McCain's enthusiasm for trade agreements between the United States and other countries is unbridled, Obama seems conflicted. That's troubling.

Obama should reconsider his early campaign pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement in an effort to add stronger worker and environmental protections to that long-settled deal with Mexico and Canada. Free trade is a net plus for the U.S. economy. It would be a mistake to throttle back, particularly now, when the nation is suffering such economic distress. The better approach would be to do more for displaced workers here, such as expanding opportunities for retraining, a worthwhile component of McCain's plan.


Both candidates favor a muscular foreign policy, although Obama would be more likely to make the military option a last resort. But on Iraq, they have real differences. Obama has promised to responsibly but quickly withdraw most U.S. troops from the country on a set timetable. McCain resists that plan, which he unambiguously calls surrender.

McCain championed last year's surge -- a big, temporary increase in the number of troops in Iraq that has played a significant role in reducing the violence dogging that nation. There's a lesson in that for Obama, who has been reluctant to acknowledge its success. It would be wiser to allow facts on the ground to determine when U.S. troops are withdrawn -- although the Iraqi government, which is pressing for a fixed timeline, may have more to say about when the occupation ends than the next American president.

Health care

Here, Obama and McCain offer fundamentally different approaches. Both acknowledge that the employer-based system of health insurance is disappearing. But the alternative McCain favors is a deregulated, individual insurance market in which consumers, armed with a tax credit, buy their own coverage. Obama wants to give government a bigger role. He would prohibit "cherry picking," so insurers couldn't routinely deny coverage to people who are sick. And he would establish what he calls the National Health Insurance Exchange, a group that would allow individuals and small businesses to select a plan offering a government-negotiated level of coverage, and buy it at the group rate from a participating private insurance company.

Obama's plan, which includes subsidies based on income, would cover millions more of the uninsured than McCain's approach, and cost little more. Unfortunately, neither plan would do enough to control rising costs, an even more difficult problem than the need to expand access.

Moving forward

It won't be easy for Obama to translate his transformative vision of post-partisanship into concrete change in how business is done in Washington. Particularly if Democrats control the House and Senate as well as the White House. The impulse to ride roughshod over a Republican minority may be hard to resist, but Obama must. And he should stand up to his party's congressional leaders to avoid partisan excesses.

A commitment by Obama to do that is a necessary first step toward post-partisan policymaking. The second would be for him to surround himself with top-notch advisers and a cabinet peopled by the best and brightest, from both parties. He should embrace good ideas, no matter which party produced them, and make competence, not party loyalty, the prime criterion for appointments.

For much of his decades-long career in Washington, John McCain exhibited just that kind of principled bipartisanship. For the good of the country, he bucked his party and joined with Democrats to tackle contentious issues such as campaign finance, immigration and taxes. We cited his "courage, integrity and willingness to take principled and consistent stands" when we endorsed McCain in the Republican primary in February.

But that man got lost in the general campaign. Candidate McCain abandoned Senator McCain's support for comprehensive immigration reform, saying he would no longer even vote for the bill he had previously sponsored. As a candidate, he embraced the tax cuts of President George W. Bush that as a senator he had derided as unaffordable.

While insisting he would always put country first, candidate McCain impulsively picked as his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is not ready to assume the duties of the presidency.

And when the nation was hit by the financial storm, McCain appeared rudderless. He declared the economic fundamentals sound one day and wailed the next that the financial markets were in crisis. Obama didn't have answers, either. But he was calm and deliberative, and helped the process by laying out conditions that an acceptable deal should meet.

McCain has been an outstanding public servant. He responded heroically when held captive in Vietnam. He clearly loves his country. But during this campaign he hasn't given the nation any compelling reason to make him president.

Obama has advanced big themes at a time when the nation faces big challenges. We believe he is ready to be the president of the United States. This editorial board endorses Barack Obama.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.