Thursday, February 28, 2008

Suprise! Blade endorses Obama

Well, it's not really a big surprise, considering ... but it is a front-page editorial of their endorsement for the March 4th primary.

What is surprising is their reasoning for the endorsement - not because it's different from perspectives the editorial board has taken in the past, but because so many of the reasons for their support have absolutely nothing to do with being the President.

They reference Sen. Barack Obama's statements to them during a meeting earlier this week: "'We have to have a government that works for ordinary people."

What is an "ordinary" American? You? Me? Bill Gates? An unemployed single mother? How would you define 'ordinary' when it comes to the American people? And I thought the whole point of our form of government was that it works for ALL and not just for some? Is Sen. Obama saying that government should NOT work for un-ordinary people?

This makes no sense to me, but it seems to be something that resonates with The Blade editorial board...

After bashing the current administration and touting Obama's 'international' upbringing, they offer this:

"Those who say that he is inexperienced in international affairs overlook that he sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The last two Democratic presidents, Mr. Clinton and Jimmy Carter, didn't have a day's service in Congress, much less foreign policy, before they took office, and it certainly hurt them."

Sitting on the Foreign Relations Committee does not give you foreign relations experience. I believe that being in foreign service would provide such - or being, perhaps, a businessman with an international company or client list. But perhaps that's just me.

And since the President of the United States is an administrative position - the Executive Branch of government - I don't see any relevance whatsoever to 'service in Congress' or other such legislative body. Former Presidents Clinton and Carter were governors with similar administration/executive branch positions. They had experience in appointing a cabinet, preparing budgets, overseeing the administrative functions of a state, and being the individual responsible for the final decisions - certainly much more relative to the position of President than being a member of a body of collective voters with no direct responsibility for the functions of a government.

"Additionally, Mr. Obama, a younger and more physically vigorous man, will be in a far better position to push Americans into solving one of the biggest problems we face: that of an unhealthy, morbidly obese generation of young people, a health crisis that is costing the nation billions. We applaud the fact that, urged by his talented wife, Michelle, he has quit smoking. That alone should be an inspiration to millions."

First, he's 'a younger and more physically vigorous man' than...Hillary Clinton??? Obviously he's a man - but the comparison is incomplete, so who knows what they mean.

And I guess I didn't realize that the role of the President was to "push" Americans into "solving" the problem of 'morbidly obese generation of young people'. In a nation of individual liberty and responsibility, don't Americans have the ability to make such decisions about their weight on their own without the government telling them how to behave or what to eat?

As for his decision to quit smoking - good for him. But I'd rather be inspired by a President who had a plan for reducing the costs of government - even if it was a plan with which I disagreed.

The editorial then excoriates Sen. Clinton, including how she and her husband "in effect looted the White House of expensive china, furniture, and other items when they left in January, 2001." Funny, I didn't find any criticism of this by The Blade at the time.

"And, if that weren't enough, they set up a gift registry to furnish their new home in New York." This issue was covered in a column by one of the reporters who worked in the Washington bureau, but I could find no editorial condemning such action.

(sidebar: I used the archives of the paper available at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. If anyone is aware of articles/editorials I may have missed, please let me know and I'll made the proper corrections.)

"We need this election to mark, at last, the end of the Vietnam period." To be quite honest, as someone past the age of 40, I thought we left the 'Vietnam period' quite some time ago, so I'm not sure what point they're trying to make. Maybe I'd have to be a Democrat to understand this?

They conclude with this:

"Barack Obama would be, figuratively if not literally, the first president of the 21st Century, much as John F. Kennedy was the first president born in the 20th century — each necessary to his time, and each able to see the world with a fresh, clear view."


Obama may, indeed, have a fresh, clear view, but I don't think his speeches or his positions detail the substance of such a perspective very well. His policy initiatives, so far, seem to differ only in details from what we've heard from other Democrat candidates. And the editorial really doesn't identify what, specifically, about his perspective is so fresh or clear.

There's been a lot of discussion about the personal appeal of Sen. Obama - he has it, definitely, often moving supporters to fainting and/or tears. As I well know, there are many people who will vote for a candidate because they like the person, even when they may not know - or even disagree with - the candidate's positions.

I can't help but think the paper's editorial board has been swept up with all the others in 'Obama adulation' for if they have more substantive reasons for supporting his candidacy in the primary, they certainly didn't list them.

Personally, I'm less interested in the 'person' than I am the 'positions.' I want to know where a candidate stands on such vital issues as the appointment of judges, the appropriate role of government, the ability to command the Armed Forces, the priorities in the federal budget, the national debt, the funding gaps in Social Security and Medicare, the interpretation of the Constitution, etc...

Those are the issues that will determine my primary vote - not whether or not a candidate has an "inspiring life story" or a "fresh and optimistic world view."

Fellow SOBer, Interested-Participant, has an opinion about this editorial, too!

3 comments:

Robin said...

I still have a really big problem with a newspaper endorsing any political candidate. They should be reporting news. Not trying to influence votes.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

Like you, I was unsurprised at the Obama endorsement. Unlike you, I was unsurprised at their reasoning. It is obvious that like many in the recent crowds at the Obama rallies, the Blade has fallen victim to the cult of personality that surrounds this candidate.

He is an "instrument of change" in spite of his lack of accomplishments, a "leader" despite his lack of experience, and "giver of truth" despite the inconsistencies of his statements and their lack of detail. Added to his seeming lack of understanding of the office of the executive branch of government, and all you can do is admire his handlers and PR people for the job that they have done.

As they treat the government of Toledo and Lucas County, the Blade seems bent on choosing style and compassion, while foregoing any real analysis of the facts or in-depth investigation of the financial implications of this candidate's stated policies. They think that we should vote for Ohama to feel better about ourselves.

No the Blade's endorsement and its reasoning is not a surprise, merely another in a seemingly endless string of disappointments.

Maggie Thurber said...

Well, Tim, when you put it that way....

:)

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