Sound leadership: Cleveland Plain-Dealer says re-elect Obama

“Today, we recommend President Obama’s re-election. He has led the nation back from the brink of depression. Ohio in particular has benefited from his bold decision to revive the domestic auto industry. Because of his determination to fulfill a decades-old dream of Democrats, 30 million more Americans will soon have health insurance. His Race to the Top initiative seeded many of the education reforms embodied in Cleveland’s Transformation Plan. He ended the war in Iraq and refocused the battle to disrupt al-Qaida and its terrorist allies. He ordered the risky attack inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden”

That’s the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s view of President Obama’s first-term record, which forms the basis for the newspaper’s endorsement of the President.

The Plain Dealer notes that not as much has been accomplished as it had hoped for in President Obama’s first term–due, in great part to the circumstances he inherited and also to “unbending, even belligerent” resistance put up by his Congressional foes. Despite these circumstances, though, the Plain Dealer sees hope in a second term.

Not only do we still believe this president can do those things, we think he can do it with policies most likely to lift Ohio and Ohioans. Obama’s leadership has made a difference when it mattered most. His stimulus package helped avert an even worse economic collapse and initiated investments in education, manufacturing and green energy that should yet pay dividends. His commitment to a balanced path toward deficit reduction won’t please the most zealous members of either party, but it makes sense for the nation.

As to Mitt Romney, the President’s challenger, The Plain Dealer credits him as a “man who gets things done.” The problem, however, is that his positions on so many issues have changed so many times, that no one know…

…which Romney would they elect? The rather liberal one who ran for the Senate in 1994? The pragmatic governor? The sharply conservative candidate of this year’s GOP primaries? The reborn moderate of recent weeks?

On foreign policy, The Plain Dealer criticizes Romney for his “bluster” and “swagger,” while admiring President Obama’s deliberative style.

Obama has shown that he favors engagement over bluster, and practical solutions over easy bromides. That’s what the country needs.

As an example of President Obama’s effective leadership, the Plain Dealer cites the auto bailout, which has been especially beneficial in Ohio.

Consider a defining moment early in Obama’s first term — one with special resonance in Ohio: The outgoing Bush administration had used TARP funds to throw a lifeline to General Motors and Chrysler, but the two automakers were still at death’s door. They wanted more cash and offered vague promises to change their ways. Public opinion opposed another bailout. Romney urged the companies to file for traditional bankruptcy — at a time when private-sector credit was frozen even for healthy firms.

Obama told the companies to restructure using the Bankruptcy Court and set conditions for government financing: GM’s chairman had to go. Excess plants and dealerships had to close. Chrysler had to be bought out by Fiat. Contracts had to be renegotiated.

It was unpopular but gutsy. And it worked. Ohioans today are making cars in Lordstown and Toledo. They’re making parts and steel for Ford, Honda and other automakers. They’re back on the job.

That’s leadership that deserves a chance to finish the job. Re-elect President Obama.