And the WaPo Endorses…

Barack Obama.

No surprise there, though the Post is hardly a bastion of liberalism and pro-Democratic sentiment, regardless of what the finger-pointing self-victimizers of the right may have to say about it.

It’s actually not a bad endorsement — well, actually, it’s quite good — with most of it focusing on Obama’s many positive qualities and policy positions, including praising him on foreign policy, health care, education, and the economy. And this is especially nice:

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic cisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. 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.

But, I have my problems with it, too. Here are the two big ones:

1) Like so many in the establishment media, the WaPo editors can’t quite get past their long history of sucking up to, and being charmed and deluded by, McCain:

It gives us no pleasure to oppose Mr. McCain. Over the years, he has been a force for principle and bipartisanship. He fought to recognize Vietnam, though some of his fellow ex-POWs vilified him for it. He stood up for humane immigration reform, though he knew Republican primary voters would punish him for it. He opposed torture and promoted campaign finance reform, a cause that Mr. Obama injured when he broke his promise to accept public financing in the general election campaign. Mr. McCain staked his career on finding a strategy for success in Iraq when just about everyone else in Washington was ready to give up. We think that he, too, might make a pretty good president.

Of course, he has only been bipartisan only on selected, self-serving issues; he has waffled back and forth on immigration (even openly disagreeing with himself); he may be against torture but his torture bill was weak (and ignored by Bush); he has supported Republican-friendly campaign finance reform while remaining in cahoots with certain key industries (gaming, alcohol, telecom) and their shady lobbyists; and his ongoing support for Bush’s disastrous war in Iraq has been shaped by his warped neocon worldview and grotesque stubbornness in the face of reality.

And Obama made the right decision not to take public financing, given his extensive grassroots efforts and the distinct advantage the Republicans have with respect to national-party spending. Plus, the public financing system has been a matter of convenience and necessity for McCain, not a matter of principle.)

He would not make a “pretty good president” — not even close. It’s possible he would actually be worse than Bush: neoconservative on foreign policy, neoliberal on economic policy, social conservative and even theocratic on domestic policy, including abortion and judicial appointments.

2) The WaPo editors reiterate their continued support for the Iraq War: “Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years in office. But if it isn’t — and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal — we can only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of success in Iraq and adjust his plans.”

It must be repeated: The surge has only partly contributed to the decline in violence in Iraq and has otherwise been a failure. Given that, how would withdrawal be “precipitous”? The Iraqis no longer want the U.S. there, and it’s not like the occupation, which is what it really is, has achieved much in the way of progress. And what is “success”? The editors don’t explain, perhaps because they don’t know what it is, perhaps because there are any number of definitions of it. Success in the war has always been a nebulous concept anyway, which is partly the reason the war has been such a mismanaged disaster.

Like so many who still support the war, the WaPo editors simply toss out the usual distortions and deceptions. Thankfully, Obama has other plans — which, even if adjusted to accommodate future conditions on the ground, wouldn’t simply be more of the same, or worse.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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