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Editorial: Obama more likely to bring change America needs

Oct. 18, 2008 @ 11:10 PM

It has been many years since American voters have had a choice of presidential candidates who are so different.

There's John McCain, the 72-year-old former prisoner of war and a longtime senator from Arizona. He has a reputation as someone who can defy his party's leadership and reach across the aisle to get things done. He's also known as a hothead.

Then there's Barack Obama, the 47-year-old first-term U.S. senator from Chicago. He's untested, but to younger voters, he represents the new generation that will replace the Baby Boomers. Where McCain is a centrist, Obama is definitely liberal.

So which should voters choose on Nov. 4?

The question generated several weeks of debate at The Herald-Dispatch editorial board. Both candidates have their strengths, and both have their weaknesses.

McCain has greater experience in government, having been a member of the U.S. Senate since 1986 and a member of the House of Representatives for four years before that. Some board members felt he has a stronger commitment to finishing the war in Iraq on the right note. His position on energy would be of great value to this region. And, as president, he would offer a balance to a Congress that likely is to be dominated by the Democratic Party.

Others felt Obama has a better idea of how to finish the war. He is more attentive to the needs of the middle class. He has a stronger commitment to education, and he is more likely to bring a fresh approach to health care, the economy and energy policy.

It was a good debate, but in the end, there was more sentiment on the editorial board that Obama would bring the change that America needs.

President George W. Bush has done some good. He took charge after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since then, there have been no terrorist attacks on American soil even though there have been several overseas. But Bush has diminished the United States. It is deeper in debt. Its military is stretched to the limit in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The world is a much different place than it was eight years ago, and not only because of 9/11. Russia is exerting itself again. Iran and North Korea are closer to having nuclear weapons.

On the international scene, the United States needs a credible leader who does not carry the baggage of having been part of the Bush political machine, which has cost the nation in its world standing.

Domestically, America needs a change. Its financial house is in trouble. Bush should have been working with the Democratic leadership in Congress before the recent Wall Street meltdown, or he should have been challenging it. But he ignored problems in the financial markets until it was too late. Recovering from the damage will take years.

Which candidate has more credibility in dealing with domestic issues? Which more likely has the energy to devote to the problems ahead?

Obama has been offering concrete programs and ideas. Most of McCain's efforts lately have focused on offering reasons why Obama is not a good choice. In other words, Obama has been looking forward while McCain has gone negative.

Already, people who watch Congress are predicting a trillion-dollar federal budget deficit soon. Whether it's in devising a package of tax cuts or new entitlement programs, a President Obama or President McCain will have his hands tied by the realities of a federal budget stretched thin by two wars and a gigantic Wall Street bailout.

Voters can gripe all they want about the shortcomings of the two candidates, but in many respects, they do have some clear choices on policy.

Yes, Obama is untested when compared with McCain. But given the choice between John McCain or Barack Obama, the question is who would be best for America. Most of the editorial board members felt the best choice is Barack Obama.

Those are our thoughts. The most important question, however, is what the American people think and for them to get out and vote and make their voices heard on Election Day.

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