Tuesday, November 4th 2008
Let us make history today.
Let us vote for seismic change. Let us choose as President a man who holds great promise to restore America's stride.
Let us vote for Barack Obama.
The most expensive, most closely followed presidential campaign is done. Fully 633 grueling days have passed since Obama - then 45, now 47 - began a candidacy remarkable in the annals of U.S. politics.
He and the country have come a long way on a trail marked by the unpredictable - and never more so than with the eruption of a global financial crisis and the hobbling of the economy. The nation reaches the end of the contest facing challenges of a very different nature than it did when prosperity seemed secure, the war in Afghanistan appeared on track and violence raged in Iraq.
The dislocations in the waning days of the race confirmed that Obama must be the choice over John McCain, a terrific public servant but not the man for this hour of lost jobs, lost savings and lost homes.
Obama's bent toward the working and middle classes would rebuild confidence that the White House has the public's interests at heart as a new government gets to work repairing awful wreckage left by the old.
The cool he displayed while leading a nearly flawless campaign signals that he would bring to the Oval Office a steadiness under pressure far greater than might be expected of a leader of his limited seasoning.
And there is no question that he would set standards for communicating with the country and the world, no small gift.
With polls showing that 90% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, Obama is harvesting justified anger at the failures of President Bush. But now his all-too-effective indictment of the Bush record is of no further use. Come tomorrow, it would be the Obama record that counts.
He has advanced proposals that stretch from the conduct of two wars to energy independence to universal health coverage to an overhaul of the tax code that shifts breaks from the wealthy to those at the bottom and in the middle.
Each has merits and demerits, but collectively they represent an agenda devised under very different circumstances.
Substantial adjustments will be necessary.
If Obama is elected, he must apply clear-eyed pragmatism to pressing issues that demand action. Promises that have been overtaken by new realities must give way to results-oriented governing. Political dogma must bow to the truth that ideology will not spur job creation or stabilize housing prices.
There is a world of difference, for example, in marching through Iowa and New Hampshire as an armchair general and serving as commander in chief. There is no position on this planet in which facts matter more.
Obama's vow to bring combat troops home from Iraq within 16 months is, in the most favorable light, a best guess at a plan - utterly divorced from the strategic analysis that produced the troop surge he opposed.
Starting tomorrow, best guesses will not suffice, nor will holding to a timetable that risks a rise in violence with the consequences of empowering Iran to meddle in Iraq's internal affairs, alienating Sunni-led countries of the Mideast and undermining America's credibility in Afghanistan.
A President Obama will have to keep combat forces in Iraq until the Iraqis are fully prepared to stand on their own.
Similarly, Obama's signature plan for the home front - tax cuts for 95% of families - is about to crash into a recession and a deficit that has grown from huge to astronomical. The plan can't survive the concussions.
The revenue gained from rescinding Bush's excessive breaks for the wealthy would be better spent on infrastructure projects, like mass transit, that stimulate the economy than on benefits for those in the lowest brackets. And raising capital-gains taxes now would impede recovery, nowhere more so than in New York.
In sum, as we said in endorsing him two weeks ago, Obama will need wisdom and flexibility to repair a damaged economy, restore faith in government and return competence to the White House.
While winding down the war in Iraq, developing strategies for Afghanistan and preventing a recurrence of terror.
But there are good grounds to believe that the hopes of millions of Americans have not been misplaced in rallying to the flag of a man likely to break a racial barrier that most expected to last for generations more.
Obama is a person of high intellect and political perception. He would not be approaching the pinnacle of power with but 12 years in government under his belt without these qualities.
He has shown the sense to assemble smart advisers - of which he will need more - and he appears to have the even greater sense to take their counsel. And, of top importance, he has promised to return bipartisanship to Washington.
So, let us make history today.
Let us vote for Barack Obama.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008