Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another country heard from

By Mustang Bobby

One of the most respected publications in this or any country is The Economist of Great Britain. It is the closest you can get to a peer-reviewed scholarly journal on financial matters that is sold at the neighborhood newsstand. And being a journal of big business and finance, you would think it would be conservative in its bearing and its outlook. And by and large you would be right. So it comes as both amazing and comforting that they have chosen to voice their support for the election of Barack Obama:

IT IS impossible to forecast how important any presidency will be. Back in 2000 America stood tall as the undisputed superpower, at peace with a generally admiring world. The main argument was over what to do with the federal government’s huge budget surplus. Nobody foresaw the seismic events of the next eight years. When Americans go to the polls next week the mood will be very different. The United States is unhappy, divided and foundering both at home and abroad. Its self-belief and values are under attack.

For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.

Read the whole article, including their almost sorrowful review of what has happened to the John McCain they once admired. And when it comes to the Palin Factor, their revulsion for this is almost palpable.

Granted, they have their blind spots (referring to the hapless "BlackBerry" Douglas Hotlz-Eakins as "impressive") and they have their doubts about Mr. Obama's lack of experience, but in the end, they believe he's up to the challenges:

There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort. It is not just that he has more than held his own against Mr McCain in the debates. A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right.

Political fire, far from rattling Mr Obama, seems to bring out the best in him: the furore about his (admittedly ghastly) preacher prompted one of the most thoughtful speeches of the campaign. On the financial crisis his performance has been as assured as Mr McCain’s has been febrile. He seems a quick learner and has built up an impressive team of advisers, drawing in seasoned hands like Paul Volcker, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers. Of course, Mr Obama will make mistakes; but this is a man who listens, learns and manages well.

[...]

So Mr Obama in that respect is a gamble. But the same goes for Mr McCain on at least as many counts, not least the possibility of President Palin. And this cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.

The conventional wisdom is that when a left-leaning publication endorses a Democrat or a conservative one endorses a Republican, the endorsement itself carries little weight; it's what people have expected from them. But when a publication like The Economist comes out for Barack Obama, that is news, and it will reach readers who would never consider voting for a Democrat. And it is no small point that the editors of The Economist speak not just for themselves but also for the rest the financial world, both here and overseas. They are the people the next president will have to deal with when the election is over and the world wonders.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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