January 30 — February 5, 2008

EDITORIAL ENDORSEMENT

Vote for Obama Feb. 5

This is the first year since 1952 that a sitting president or vice president isn't running for president. It comes at the end of George W. Bush's two terms — the final year of which cannot come fast enough.

On dishonest grounds, Bush has mired us in an unwinnable war and five years later still has no exit strategy. His administration has eroded our civil liberties, ballooned our national debt to terrifying proportions and left our economy on shaky footing. Bush, Cheney et al. have weakened America's standing abroad, dissipating the goodwill shown us after 9/11.

This election is a watershed moment for change. Fortunately, the Democrats have very qualified candidates.

One candidate, though, stands above. Senator Barack Obama is the agent of change America needs. He has energized voters, particularly young voters, and built a political movement and generated enthusiasm not seen since the Kennedys in the 1960s.

Symbolically passing the torch, former President John F. Kennedy's brother and daughter, Senator Ted Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, have both endorsed Obama.

Obama's message is about hope and change, about transcending partisan politics. When one of his Democratic opponents talks, that candidate's speeches are peppered almost every other sentence with the word "I." When Obama speaks, it's all about "we" and "us."

That inclusiveness is the key to Obama and his campaign. He's made us feel that change is possible, and that all of us can help make a difference. He has shown a willingness to reach across the aisle, to talk to foes. He makes us believe our broken political system can be fixed.

Some will argue Obama lacks experience. Yet he is where he is because of his political acumen, his intelligence and the force of his will and message. He didn't ride anyone's coattails — or exaggerate his experience, as some in the race are wont to do.

On policy issues, the Democrats' positions are not wildly different. But we face a complicated, complex world with a new set of challenges — and the answers aren't readily apparent. We need policy prescriptions based on past experience — but we need new approaches, new thinking and willingness to tackle the tough stuff, not just keep various interests happy. It's time to go with the candidate who brings the next generation of ideas, energy and perspective.

That Obama is biracial says a lot about us and our increasingly multiracial nation. His background, and the fact that he opposed the war from Day One, will tell the world a lot about us, too. Senator Hillary Clinton has a strong grasp of the issues, and benefited from being first lady. But she lacks Obama's ability to inspire and his temperament and talent to connect with people, which make him so well suited to lead this nation. Obama is the right man at the right moment — and, yes, he is making history. The Villager endorses Barack Obama in the New York Democratic primary on Tues., Feb. 5.

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