Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Greenville News Endorses Barack Obama for Democrats

The Greenville News Endorses Barack Obama for President

by Sam Graham-FelsenWednesday, January 23, 2008 at 01:59 PM

Yet another South Carolina newspaper, The Greenville News, has endorsed Barack Obama...

The Greenville News endorses Barack Obama in Democratic primary

Obama could help nation face its challenges

Democrats in South Carolina go to the polls Saturday to pick their candidate in this state’s presidential primary, one that follows by a week the Republicans ' selection of John McCain in that party’s primary contest. The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary took their toll on some second-tier candidates, and the two viable candidates remaining on Saturday’s ticket are Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards could do reasonably well in South Carolina Saturday given this is his home state. But Edwards’ 2008 campaign lacks the vibrancy of his effort four years ago. He bitterly replays his 2004 theme of two Americas, one rich and one poor, and his campaign appears to be sputtering.

This Democratic race really boils down to a contest between the first woman with a real chance of capturing a major party’s nomination for president and the first African-American with an opportunity to do the same. The Greenville News endorses Barack Obama in Saturday’s primary.

In this race that’s ultimately about giving the Democratic Party its strongest candidate for the November general election, Barack Obama has emerged as one of the most attractive candidates on the political scene in decades. He has a refreshing lack of political guile, and he inspires with his words and with his life’s story. His father came from Kenya, his mother from Kansas, and Obama was born in Hawaii. He has moved easily between different cultures, and he has said before that his life built on diverse experiences has prepared him to be a political leader devoted to uniting people and seeking common solutions.

Obama brings characteristics to this primary that lift up many people and elevate their sense of hope. He is not a hardened ideologue. While he does not minimize his Democratic Party roots, he talks openly and encouragingly of wanting to get "Democrats, Republicans and independents to work constructively on problems instead of (trying) to score political points."

He could help Washington move past its stubborn and destructive partisan politics. As he said in an editorial board meeting at this newspaper, "The politics we have seen and grown accustomed to over the past 20 years have not been productive." That’s so true.

In the area of experience, Hillary Clinton has a slight edge over Obama given a lengthier resume that includes advocating for children’s issues, her proximity to power during her husband’s two terms as president, and her Senate career that began in 2001. Clinton is an exceptionally sharp politician, by all accounts a hard worker, and is a strong advocate for issues dear to the hearts of many Democrats.

All but Clinton’s harshest critics could see her ably fulfilling the duties of the president of the United States, and that includes her serving as the commander in chief during a national crisis.

But despite whatever positive attributes Clinton could bring to the White House, she would undeniably continue this country’s politics of division. A most telling point has emerged over the past week, when Clinton has roasted Obama — and twisted his words — for daring to state that Ronald Reagan was a transformational political figure who realigned this nation’s politics. Our country doesn’t need another four years, or eight years, of divide-and-conquer politics.

On the major issues facing the nation, the Democrats are remarkably close in their positions, and it must be added, many of these positions run counter to those often expressed by this newspaper on this opinion page. The major Democratic candidates want us out of Iraq, but with slightly different timetables. They want tax policies that reflect the Democratic Party’s agenda, and they want to stimulate a faltering economy by putting more money into the pockets of more Americans, especially low-income Americans who don’t pay income taxes. The Democratic candidates also want to provide health care for all Americans, although again with slightly different approaches.

In this race to capture to the Democratic Party’s nomination, Obama makes the most compelling case for his nomination when he describes the differences between himself and Sen. Clinton. She is more comfortable with the "Washington lobby culture," he told our editorial board, and as seen in the failed health-care campaign in 1993, she is comfortable operating behind closed doors and trying to demonize her opponents.

Obama’s approach to governing would be based on openness, inclusiveness and transparency. That approach would serve our country well.

Kerry Washington, Usher and Barack Obama SCSU

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