Barack Obama for president

Posted Oct. 17, 2008, at 9:13 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 3:26 a.m.

Change has become an overused buzzword this election, but change is what this country needs. Change from a misguided foreign policy that indefinitely leaves U.S. troops in Iraq more than five years after an invasion based on dubious evidence. Change from a hands-off approach to financial markets that have paralyzed the U.S. economy. Change from a fiscal policy that has ballooned the federal deficit and shortchanged domestic programs. Change from an administration veiled in secrecy with little regard for the Constitution and American principles. Barack Obama represents that change.

This paper has long respected and supported John McCain, especially his efforts, often along with Maine’s senators, on climate change, campaign finance reform and government spending. That John McCain is not running for president.

The Sen. McCain on the Nov. 4 ballot favors extending the fiscally irresponsible Bush tax cuts when the “maverick” voted against them in the Senate. The Sen. McCain running for president says he is firmly pro-life although he previously said he would oppose overturning Roe v. Wade because that would cause women to have dangerous illegal abortions.

Sen. McCain, who has a long record of distinguished service to his country, has compromised his principles to get elected. His reckless choice of Sarah Palin, the folksy but untested and incurious governor of the country’s most government-dependent state, as his running mate is a prime example. Worse is his tolerance of his campaign’s desperate attempts to paint Sen. Obama as a friend of terrorists because he served on a board with William Ayers, a member of the radical 1960s group the Weather Underground.

As conservative columnist George Will wrote last month: “It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?”

With a record number of Americans believing the country is on the wrong track, strong leadership and a commitment to moving in a new direction are needed. While his opponents have derided Sen. Obama’s talk of hope and unity as empty slogans, the popularity of his campaign shows that the country is eager for positive leadership, not a continuation of the divisiveness fostered by the Bush administration.

Backing hope and unity ensures that Maine remains focused on the future, where a return to the country’s positive prospects lies.

A positive message, of course, is not enough to be elected president, and we do have reservations about Sen. Obama’s limited experience — he has served only four years in the U.S. Senate and three terms in the Illinois Senate. But he has shown an eagerness to surround himself with well-informed advisers and, as important, a willingness to listen to dissenting views.

If elected, Sen. Obama will work with a Congress controlled by Democrats. He and party leaders have a responsibility to restrain government spending, resist growth in government programs and foster moderate policy shifts, which requires building on good ideas from Republicans and Democrats alike.

This is especially necessary because Sen. Obama will have a difficult time finding ways to pay for the needed, but expensive reforms he proposes for health care, education and the tax code. Addressing voters’ top concerns — righting the economy, ending the war in Iraq and moving America toward energy independence — will only come through bipartisan negotiations, in which Sen. McCain can play a key role as he has on important issues such as climate change and military contracting.

At a cost of $10 billion a month, the loss of more than 4,000 American soldiers’ lives and the constraints it placed on the U.S. military, the current strategy in Iraq is not sustainable. Sen. Obama understands this.

He also understands that drilling for oil without conservation and support for renewable energy won’t move the U.S. toward energy independence. He understands that reducing taxes and health care costs for the middle class and small businesses are essential to rebuilding the economy.

For these reasons, the policies of the Barack Obama and Joe Biden ticket and its serious focus on our most pressing issues will better serve Maine and America.

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