Friday, January 25, 2008

Modesto Bee backs Barack Obama

The Modesto Bee, a daily in the Central Valley of California, endorsed Barack Obama today.

Modesto Bee backs Obama in California Democratic primary

last updated: January 25, 2008 06:40:55 AM

It is looking as if the Democratic Party will break historic barriers this year. If the nominee for president is Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York or Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, as seems likely, either a woman or an African-American will be a major party's nominee for the first time. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards remains in the race, but is polling and running a distant third. The small field gives California Democrats and independents an interesting choice Feb. 5.

We believe Obama is the strongest of the three, offering inspiring leadership and an openness to ideas that has been missing in the current administration.

He has less time in the Senate than the others, but he had some very effective years as a legislator in the Illinois statehouse. His experience as a community organizer, which he refers to frequently, gave him an insight into ending cycles of poverty. So he talks not just about government programs but also about initiatives to promote personal responsibility.

His own childhood gives him a worldly perspective that transcends old ethnic barriers. Although well-educated, with a Harvard law degree, he also has an intuitive sense of people and issues.

On some issues important to the valley and California, Obama holds moderate views and the potential to work with representatives from both parties to get something accomplished. He is a co-sponsor of the agriculture guest worker bill that would help assure valley farms get the workers they need to harvest crops. He supports California's effort to impose stiffer greenhouse gas regulations.

It is unfortunate that the Democratic race has gotten so mean-spirited in recent days. Until then, Obama had been consistently poised and focused.

We still believe that he, more than Clinton, will be able to ease the partisan battles that have become so common.

Hillary and Bill Clinton have been both victims and aggressors in some of the polarized politics. Obama, in contrast, has no old scores to settle. His ascension would represent a clean break with the generation that has fought and re-fought the Vietnam War and the cultural upheavals that wracked the 1960s.

Obama was an early opponent of the war in Iraq, because he thought it was a strategic blunder that would only hurt the United States. His credibility on that issue would position him well to end the occupation quickly while also giving him the flexibility to extend it if necessary to avoid shedding the blood of more innocent Iraqis.

Obama's lack of experience at the highest levels of government is more than offset by his character, energy and core values -- values on which he has been consistent for years. Obama is the best choice for the Democratic nomination.

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