Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Honolulu Advertiser endorses Barack Obama

The Honolulu Advertiser endorsed Barack Obama today.

Democrats need Barack Obama's vision, leadership

Conventional wisdom suggests that once Democrats pick their nominee, it will be easy for the party to rally behind the winner against the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, John McCain. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both strong candidates, aren't far apart on key national issues, and Democrats have eight years of deprivation uniting them in their zeal to reclaim the White House.

But while they might find the November decision easy, many of the party faithful are struggling over the more immediate choice: Which U.S. senator should become the Democratic standard-bearer?

For tomorrow's party caucus, when Hawai'i Democrats have a rare chance to influence the final outcome of the primary-election campaign, The Honolulu Advertiser endorses Barack Obama, recognizing his ideas and policies as being most closely aligned with the needs of the country.

Many others who've made that selection argue that the junior U.S. senator from Illinois stands a better chance of beating the more seasoned McCain. That's because Clinton, rightly or wrongly, accrued many detractors during her years as first lady — critics may feel comfortable enough with the socially moderate McCain to vote with the GOP.

But that's just a tactical analysis. It misses the more substantive points of Obama's very real credentials and, in particular, the power of his presidential platform.

· Foreign policy: Obama argues forcefully that the U.S. must move decisively "to lead the world by deed and by example." Specifically, Obama has grasped the reality that the Iraq war must be brought to a responsible end through a phased withdrawal of troops. Attention must be refocused on the Middle East more broadly, he said, with greater emphasis placed on countering terrorist cells in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Tough-minded diplomacy, backed by the whole range of instruments of American power — political, economic and military — could bring success even when dealing with long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria," Obama wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs.

On a more global scale, Obama believes the U.S. must lead an international effort to secure nuclear weapons and material at sites within four years. The clear objective is to reduce a potent threat from terrorist organizations.

Obama also takes a more nuanced approach toward relations with Asia. Regarding China, for example, he correctly focuses on building "a relationship that broadens cooperation while strengthening our ability to compete."

· Economy: Obama proposes a more balanced tax policy that directs relief back toward the middle class, and adjustment in U.S. trade policy that would bolster the stability of the American job market. His ideas on job creation in the renewable energy sector links two critical aims of a solid domestic program: greater energy self-sufficiency and workforce development.

· Healthcare: Obama has proposed a plan that enables choice for those currently covered by health insurance but extends affordable enrollment opportunities to those who have no coverage.

The bottom line: Everyone will have access to health insurance; income will no longer be the insurmountable barrier it is today.

After reviewing his ideas, the careful voter should consider Obama's experience. Born and raised in Hawai'i, Obama later settled in Chicago and became a community organizer with a church-based group, working to better living conditions in poor, high-crime neighborhoods. Later, with a Harvard law degree in hand, he practiced as a civil rights attorney and teacher.

During eight years in the Illinois state legislature he supported increased funding for healthcare and education; he also helped write bills to publicly finance judicial campaigns and create a state earned-income tax credit.

That work, and his undeniable personal charisma, helped propel him into the U.S. Senate, where he has managed to secure additional funding for veterans' medical care and energy development in his home state. He opposed the corporate-written Central American Free Trade Agreement, and he led the charge among those challenging the Bush administration's failure to protect New Orleans.

There is no single candidate who can possess all the attributes needed to guide a president through the impossibly complex challenges of that job. The central question, rather, is which candidate possesses the qualities that we need most?

The U.S. is a nation at war and in economic distress. The road back will be a long one, the journey likely to span more than one presidential tenure. The capacity for hope and the willingness to change, both rallying cries of the Obama campaign, are elements critical to that journey.

The Democrats should recognize that the ability to inspire and to persuade others to follow is no trivial thing, no superficiality.

It is, in fact, the critical aspect of leadership required at times like these, when only a more unified nation can find its way through the difficulties ahead.

The party needs to acknowledge the clarion call that's resonated through the past weeks of the presidential campaign. It needs Barack Obama.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's off-topic, but I came upon this site at htt://obamawill.com and it's wonderful and funny. And...my wife, a Clinton supporter, read it and said it's the first thing she's seen that inclines her towards Obama. Go figure.

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