This was posted on the Detroit Free Press blog today:
“Good judgment makes good presidents.
A chief executive’s ability to be steady yet decisive, and thoughtful when bravado might be enticing, can be the difference between success and disaster in the Oval Office. It’s more important than experience, which can be mistakenly equated with wisdom.
So the choice Americans face in the Nov. 4 presidential election is a clear one: between the relatively inexperienced Democratic senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who has shown a knack for developing well-reasoned solutions to the nation’s many critical problems, and John McCain, the longtime Republican senator from Arizona, a genuine American war hero with a creditable streak of political independence, who has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive and bullheaded as a political leader.
At a time when America clearly needs some changes, Obama is not only proposing better ones but is also better suited to the job of getting them done. The Free Press endorses Democrat BARACK OBAMA for president.
Despite his relatively short time in public office, Obama, 47, has over the course of the general election campaign steadily articulated a progressive, pragmatic vision for this country, keyed to opportunities for the middle class, and demonstrated time and again that his approach to things is grounded in deliberation and reflection. He’s a man clearly open to ideas and willing to search for the right answer to a problem rather than pursuing the expedient one.
His mantra of “change” is rooted in a well-grounded perspective on governing and leadership.
These qualities will serve well a country that’s hungry for a unified, hopeful vision.
Issue No. 1: Economic recovery
On the economy, issue No. 1 for most Americans, Obama’s recovery plan more openly acknowledges the reality of the current situation: that it won’t be fixed easily, or without sacrifice. He proposes massive investment — in infrastructure, education and alternative energy development — to create jobs, but also to better position the American economy for global competition.
While promising a tax cut for most Americans, Obama also has been clear about the need to raise taxes on the richest Americans, and to reprioritize spending in Washington. He is a disciple of the pay-as-you-go approach to federal spending that helped produce a budget surplus in the ’90s, and he supports targeted spending cuts rather than the broad freeze proposed by McCain — a scalpel instead of hatchet, as the candidates put it in their final debate Wednesday.
As the current economic crisis burst on Washington and Wall Street last month, Obama’s response was measured, rather than panicky, and insightful where it needed to be. He has focused on correcting the massive deregulation of the financial markets that figured in the Wall Street meltdown, while also promising to provide relief to home owners threatened with foreclosure.
Notably, while McCain made a show of suspending his campaign and even asked to call off their first debate so he could rush to Washington for the Wall Street bailout debate, Obama stayed on the campaign trail, offering solutions and correctly pointing out that a president must be able to juggle multiple tasks.
On other key domestic issues with direct impacts on Michigan, Obama’s health care plan is also crafted around a cautious reality that Americans won’t accept a government-run system. He would augment private insurance with a government-funded plan for those who don’t have coverage. On trade, he promises to be a better, tougher negotiator for American products. Obama also has come around on federal assistance and encouragement for U.S. manufacturing, especially the auto industry, which has emerged as a key player in his big plans for a 10-year project to increase the country’s energy independence.
More reasoned on foreign policy
Foreign policy was supposed to be Obama’s weakness, given his newness to the Senate and lack of other service that would have given him first-hand exposure.
But he has emerged as the more sophisticated thinker on the subject and would set a course for the nation that balances humility and humanity with strength, leadership and collaboration.
Obama would pursue a more certain end with the war in Iraq so the American military can focus more on Afghanistan and other nations with more direct connections to terrorism.
He would abandon the hard-line stonewalling adopted by President George W. Bush toward America’s enemies, saying an open approach to negotiations will be more effective. Obama’s stance here strongly reflects his belief that dialogue and openness, even with those who are virulent or violently disagree, don’t equate with weakness. Failure to recognize that has been one of Bush’s most abject failures.
McCain takes disappointing turn
McCain, 72, a surprise victor in the Republican primaries, has been a disappointing contrast to Obama almost from the start of the general election campaign.
His run for the presidency was launched with not only his compelling personal story but McCain’s strong credentials as an independent Republican legislator. But since late summer, the campaign has been marked by stunts and gimmicks, gaffes and shifts that call into question McCain’s temperament and, most of all, his judgment.
One of his greatest miscalculations was the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, a pick McCain made after just two meetings and a phone call with the Alaska governor, not yet two years into her first term.
Palin was exciting initially, a potential voice for change, and someone who shared McCain’s “maverick” sensibilities.
But in the weeks since her selection, she has been revealed as not much more than a sideshow, someone with very limited range on issues and almost none of the depth expected in a cabinet secretary, let alone vice president, or president.
McCain has also shown his impulsiveness on policy matters.
Foreign affairs were supposed to be his strong suit, but he has embraced an icy Cold War mentality that could prove dangerous in a world rocked by a more modern political and cultural volatility. He famously joked about bombing Iran. He has resisted admitting that the Iraq war is a costly distraction from the real business of fighting terrorism, vowing to stay until “victory” is achieved. He irresponsibly reduced former Russian President Vladimir Putin to a caricature, saying he saw three letters, “K-G-B,” when he looked into his eyes.
And during the first debate, which was focused on foreign affairs, McCain was nearly bellicose in his saber-rattling, talking very tough but without much context or nuance about America’s place in the world, and its needs going forward.
The Free Press has twice endorsed McCain for the Republican presidential nomination, in 2000 and this year. The McCain running against Obama in this general election has not been the same candidate; he has been nastier, less consistent and, since his acceptance speech at the GOP National Convention, frankly uninspiring.
His campaign suggests McCain would be a president given to instinct, good or bad, and the shunning of advice and consensus.
Senate colleagues quietly agree, describing McCain as quick-tempered — although his outbursts rarely last long — and inclined to make instant decisions, then backfill to defend them.
Obama, by contrast, is said to hear out all points of view and deliberate, sometimes too long, before drawing a conclusion. Each style has its advantages in given situations, but in the White House, where executive decisions can have instant, global impact, Obama’s way will be less risky more often — and a welcome change after eight years of a president who proudly relies on gut instinct.
That Obama would be the first African American elected president is of no policy import, but would be a symbol of American progress, to people in this country and around the world. That he is relatively young and a gifted speaker is also of little substantive importance, though his soaring rhetoric and hopeful outlook could be beneficial in rallying Americans to face today’s challenges together.
But his judgment, across the board, is what makes BARACK OBAMA the stronger candidate to be America’s 44th president.”
Moderate Republicans are jumping off of the McCain ship at this point like rats off of a burning vessel.