Endorsement: Rockford Register Star endorses Barack Obama for president

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

We believe only one candidate in this race can legitimately put the title of leader on his resume: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama.

With nothing on a firm footing — not the economy, not the war, not health care — the leader of the free world should be just that: a leader.

In endorsing Obama over Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, we’re choosing a man who we’ve come to know as an earnest, smart and, yes, charismatic politician who has visited this Editorial Board several times.

We know the Obama who doesn’t just give you his opinion but leads you through his thought process. He’s confident but deliberative. He’s certain but deferential. If those qualities seem to be in conflict, you don’t know Obama.

We know the Obama whose grace under pressure is a tonic for the my-way-or-the-highway style of governing that isn’t just getting old. It’s getting dangerous. We are in a global economic crisis that demands cooperation.

We know the Obama whose allure doesn’t rest in the size of his crowds or the color of his skin, but in his superb judgment, his careful reasoning, his measured temperament. He redefines dignity, both the dignity he possesses and the dignity he allows other people — even when (especially when) he disagrees with them.

For the past eight years, we’ve seen the government spend money it didn’t have, manipulate intelligence to wage a war with unclear goals, trample on privacy and leave pirates to raid our financial institutions.

When Obama says he can change that, we believe it’s more than campaign rhetoric. We believe he can make it happen because Obama is the kind of man who wants the same things that mainstream Americans want: affordable and accessible health care, a phased withdrawal for our soldiers in Iraq, a foreign policy that repairs damage to our international reputation and restores confidence in our ability to lead the world.

On the economy, we need someone suited to take us through unchartered territory. We are in scary times. Economists predict a recession deeper than any in recent memory. The government has taken extraordinary steps to stop the free fall on Wall Street. We need a steady hand to guide us.

Unfortunately, steady is not an adjective that can be applied to Sen. McCain. The McCain we have seen in this campaign is not the man — not the politician — we have admired all these years. He’s not a maverick; he’s the puppet of reckless political advisers.

The McCain we have idolized for his heroism and his willingness to speak unpopular truths has become a desperate politician who is erratic, angry and unpredictable.

By choosing an unqualified and inexperienced running mate in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain has reinforced the belief he is not to be trusted. In a McCain presidency, the chances would be good the vice president could assume the presidency. McCain would be older than any man elected to a first term as president. Although he has proved resilient, he has been treated repeatedly for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

We applaud himfor releasing nearly 1,500 pages of medical records, but we still wonder where his head’s at — and we pine for the politician we thought we knew.

However, we do have some concerns, which were reflected in the 7-2 endorsement vote.

We wish Barack Obama had more experience. We wish he didn’t seem so smitten with government solutions. We wish he could have waited to run for president so that his record spoke more forcefully for him.

Even so, he has had nearly 12 years in elected office, four years in the U.S. Senate and eight in the Illinois Senate. Comparing Palin’s lack of experience to Obama’s is just not fair. Nor is it fair to begrudge his background as a community organizer. That work gave him great faith in the ability of people to solve their own problems, if only given the resources.

Not much seems fair or decent this election. Both campaigns have waged assault on the truth; the recent presidential debate was remarkably personal and down and dirty. While McCain’s campaign has been more negative, Obama has told some half truths about McCain’s positions. And Obama disappointed when he backed away from federal financing of his campaign and a promise he made to accept the limitations that come with that financing.

Missteps are notcharacteristic for Obama. He strikes us mostly as a man who doesn’t just mouth the rhetoric on renewal and change; it’s in his DNA. Before he went to Capitol Hill, he was well-liked in Springfield because of his knack for seeking common ground. He knows how to listen and he knows how to disagree. “If I’m clear on my principles,” he said in 2004, “then I have the luxury of being courteous.”

If there’s any quality this country is hungering for, it’s courtesy. That’s also a hallmark of Obama’s running mate, the seasoned and capable Sen. Joe Biden. If anything should happen to Obama, Biden — unlike Sarah Palin — is ready to be president.

We ask readers the same thing Obama asked delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 2004: “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?”

In America, hope has no ceiling for deposit or withdrawal. It’s our ultimate insurance policy and our only safe investment. In this election, Barack Obama is the candidate who understands a simple calculus — hope equals change.

Rockford Register Star