Empire editorial: Democrats should support Obama

Posted: Friday, February 01, 2008

Barack Hussein Obama. More than one voter has pondered the name of the Democratic presidential candidate and waxed on what it represents.

Fusion. Diversity. Change.

We endorse the senator in the Democratic caucuses because he presents the possibility of American unity after a long period of divisiveness. His cultural background and anti-war consistency would allow the nation to broadcast a message - unencumbered by words - to the war-torn Middle East and the rest of the world. And, unlike the highly qualified Sen. Hillary Clinton, he's not loathed for personal and political baggage.

After eight years of President George W. Bush, we're tired of seeing half the country steaming over what it sees from a leader elected by the other half. We were tired of that after eight years of Bill Clinton, too. Instead of shuffling from one end of divisiveness to the next, we want change.

Obama opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, unlike Hillary Clinton, who supported it at first, then called for it to end. He has proposed leaving a limited number of troops to keep fighting terrorism, but to withdraw at least one brigade a month and be out in 16 months.

In his campaigning, he calls for an end to the Bush tax cuts to families earning more than $250,000 a year. He suggests cutting taxes by $80 billion, offering a $1,000 per family tax credit. His idea of raising capital gains taxes to as much as 28 percent might rattle investors, but it makes more sense than demanding less from the super-rich.

Obama pushes for a requirement that all children have health care. Whether voters want insurance to be universal or private, how can they hold back on kids? Obama says we should pay for the expanded coverage with money Bush has relinquished through his tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. Obama also wants to force all but the smallest businesses to provide insurance for employees or contribute to the expense of care.

Sen. Clinton has the intelligence and experience to be a solid leader. But she engenders a lot of possibly irrational hatred among segments of the population, much like Bush. Her family has been involved in Washington politics for a long time, much like Bush. In a sense, she and the president seem like opposite sides of the same, flawed coin. With a recession looming and dollar-values dropping, let's consider another option.

Obama worked as a community organizer with a church-based group in Chicago, as a civil rights lawyer and teacher of constitutional law. He served eight years in the Illinois Senate and was elected U.S. senator in 2004.

Many people question whether he has enough experience, at 45, to lead the nation. But what would prepare a person for the hardest job in the world? Would an extra decade in the Senate serve to polish or tarnish? For a man so young to go so far shows that he can tackle the challenge of being president. Perhaps his newness represents a risk, but at least it's not the risk of sameness.

We believe he has the skills and background to be a successful president. Democrats should go to Centennial Hall between 4:30 and 6 p.m. on Super Tuesday and support Obama.

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