Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Montana Standard weighs in for Obama

My home state of Montana nearly joined the rest of the progressive West in the Obama tidal wave this year. It was heartening to see that my former newspaper, The Montana Standard in Butte, weighed in with a fine endorsement of Obama. Way to go Standard Staffers, and especially my friend Roberta Stauffer, the chief author of the piece:

Obama is best choice for president

By Roberta Stauffer - 11/02/2008
Montana is a toss-up in this year's presidential election race, which makes it more important than ever to get to the polls on Tuesday, if you haven't already voted by absentee ballot.The stakes are high, with challenges looming at all levels of government, but no race is more important than the battle for the presidency. And it's been a bonafide battle, unfortunately, one that's grown more mean-spirited with each passing week.The candidate who has remained the most level-headed and diplomatic through the storms of accusations hurled is the man we at The Standard believe is best suited to lead the United States through the tough years ahead.

Time after time, Sen. Barack Obama has demonstrated his intelligence, his grasp of the issues and his sincere desire to make a break with past failed policies and move this country in a new direction.Domestically, that means pushing policies aimed at strengthening the middle class, which is the unquestioned locomotive of America's economy. For the last eight years, statistics show the rich are richer and the middle class is shrinking. From tax policy to health care, education to energy plans, Obama aims to empower Americans to help ourselves and restore some semblance of balance between corporate interests and average citizens.On the international front, Obama intends to redeem America in the eyes of a world still reeling over the fact that the United States invaded a sovereign nation six years ago based on highly questionable motives. Among other things, he has pledged to support our troops by bringing them home from Iraq as quickly as possible and to redouble efforts to track down Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, which remains alive and well in the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Never before has America seen a candidate like Obama, who actually spent some of his formative childhood years overseas and is himself the product of a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, raised mainly by maternal grandparents in Hawaii. He is an Everyman in many respects, and he got to where he is today largely because of his work ethic, his intellect and his charisma. Our country needs that combination of qualities in our president now more than ever.And we in southwest Montana have been fortunate this past year to have actually hosted Obama on two separate occasions. We heard him outline his plans and hopes in real time; many of us shook his hand, conversed with him, even sang "Happy Birthday" to his daughter on the Fourth of July.Of course visits to Butte are not reason to vote for Obama, but the fact that he felt an instant kinship with this Democratic stronghold, that he decided to visit a second time and bring along his family, created a unique tie to this candidate, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long while, if ever.Sen. John McCain's campaign seems to have assumed it had Montana all wrapped up, which may prove to be a fatal mistake.

The Republican candidate's absence has been particularly conspicuous in contrast to the intense presence of Obama and his team. Montanans are independent-minded free thinkers who don't like to be taken for granted.Most all Americans agree that McCain is a great American, but that in itself is not sufficient qualification for the presidency. McCain is not George Bush, as Obama suggests, but McCain has failed to demonstrate where he is significantly different. Also, his age is a concern, given the demanding nature of the job. And he showed poor judgment in choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate. She simply is not qualified to be the vice president of the United States, let alone the president, should the need arise.Obama, on the other hand, demonstrated sound judgment in choosing Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate.

The two men's backgrounds and strengths complement one another well, and Biden, himself a former candidate for the presidency, does have the background and experience to assume the lead role if duty were to call. It's that kind of thoughtful, well- considered decision-making ability that we sorely need in our next president, who will be called upon to undo the damage wrought by Bush, the self-proclaimed "Decider." Obama's well-organized campaign itself has been a tour de force, engaging and exciting voters, especially young people, like never before. In Montana alone, the Obama campaign has set up 19 offices and enlisted the help of more than 14,000 volunteers. Change is in the air, and although hard times lie ahead no matter who our next president will be, Obama has proven he has the energy and the skills to lead us.

As the Washington Post said in its endorsement, "Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good." So would we.


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