Winston-Salem Journal: Obama is best choice for President

In a major break from its own political tradition, the Winston-Salem Journal [North Carolina], has endorsed Democratic President Barack Obama for a second term in office. In 2008, the Journal backed Republican John McCain. And, in fact, the last time the Journal endorsed a Democratic presidential nominee was in 1964, when it backed Lyndon B. Johnson. [A possible reason for the political switch could be that the Journal was purchased in May 2012 by Berskshire Hathaway, whose primary shareholder is billionaire Warren Buffett, a Democrat.]

The Journal begins by noting that the choice in the 2012 Presidential Election is between two candidates with “starkly different ideas for spurring the economy, providing for the health of our people, defending our interests abroad, educating our children and protecting our environment. We believe that President Barack Obama’s progress on these issues merits him a second term in the White House.”

In 2008, the Journal backed Senator McCain, thinking that he would “bring the Iraq war to a successful conclusion, work to end American dependence on foreign oil, reduce America’s output of climate-changing gases and begin the rebuilding of our economy.” Under President Obama, those things, and more, have been accomplished, says the editorial. “He is calm under pressure and courageous in standing up for the rights of all Americans, including the poor, veterans, the elderly, women, gays and immigrants.”

The endorsement also notes that President Obama’s policies have help the country “avert what could have been a far worse economic disaster, maybe even a depression.

The economy is slowly recovering — the national unemployment rate has finally fallen below 8 percent — and the president’s policies of continued government investment in infrastructure and education offer the best hope that the recovery will accelerate. Obama promises to cut spending and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but keep taxes where they are for the vast majority.

Interestingly, the Journal addresses a personality issue that bothers some Democrats: President Obama’s alleged “aloofness.”

Obama is not always as gregarious as many Americans might like him to be, but he is committed to his country and candid with it — to the point of releasing far more of his tax returns than Romney. While Obama commits the occasional gaffe, we can’t imagine him ever dismissing 47 percent of his fellow Americans — as Romney did, and later apologized for doing.

And, on foreign policy, the Journal gives Obama high marks:

On national security, Obama has gotten American combat troops out of Iraq while winding down the American presence in Afghanistan. He has used American military might to fight international terrorism to a degree that no one anticipated in 2008. He showed strong leadership in ordering the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Obama foreign policy — as seen in Libya — requires our allies to handle a great share of our common defense burden, especially when the interests at stake are dearer to those allies.

We like the president’s stand on Iran, slowly but steadily undermining the Iranian economy rather than launching a premature military strike and setting off another Middle East war.

Regarding the President’s opponent, Mitt Romney, the Journal dismisses Romney’s economic and tax policies–at least the few policies that hes has actually outlined in any detail at all–as “warmed-over trickle-down economics” that will make matters worse. The editorial also notes that Romney’s stances on so many issues have changed so often that it is difficult to know what he might do as President. And on Medicare, the journal tells it straight:

“We fear that Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher program that would not match the full cost of private insurance for the seniors. His hybrid plan would drive the sickest Americans into a government plan and let the insurance companies cherry-pick the healthiest clients.

The editorial also strongly criticizes Romney for his plan to cut funds for public eduction, for his intention to gut environmental protections that Obama has restored, and for the sable-rattling regarding Iran that “seems to come straight from George W. Bush. Some of Romney’s foreign-policy advisers are the former Bush neo-conservatives who got us into the unnecessary Iraq war.”

By comparison, says the Journal:

Obama has a keen vision that he has worked hard to achieve, against considerable obstacles and often courageously. But the goal is in sight: An America respected worldwide as much for its prosperity as its defense of liberty and justice.

The Journal editorial board endorses Barack Obama for president.