Brilliant – The Economist Endorses Obama (VIDEO)

Not all endorsements are created equal. That’s a given. Some are “full-throated” (as has been said about The New Yorker magazine endorsement), others are more equivocal, even begrudging. But as they say about publicity, any endorsement is a good endorsement. And when that endorsement comes from London-based The Economist, the world’s leading economics-focused newspaper, that’s a good endorsement.

With a mission – stated at its inception in 1843 – “to take part in ‘a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress,’” The Economist’s editorial stance is defined further in this excerpt from their 2009 website:

What, besides free trade and free markets, does The Economist believe in? “It is to the Radicals that The Economist still likes to think of itself as belonging. The extreme centre is the paper’s historical position.” That is as true today as when former Economist editor Geoffrey Crowther said it in 1955. The Economist considers itself the enemy of privilege, pomposity and predictability. It has backed conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It has supported the Americans in Vietnam. But it has also endorsed Harold Wilson and Bill Clinton, and espoused a variety of liberal causes: opposing capital punishment from its earliest days, while favouring penal reform and decolonisation, as well as—more recently—gun control and gay marriage.

Given their stated and unflinching independence, as well as the troubled state of the economy in the last four years, their endorsement for Obama (also extended in 2008) was not a foregone conclusion. In fact, while Democrats rightfully applaud the ultimate decision, it is one that comes with caveats and a certain begrudging approval, something the GOP will likely spin. The paper hits Obama hard on a variety of fronts, from what they deem a lack of persistence in bridging the obstructionist gap with the GOP, to the perceived distancing of his administration from climate change and immigration issues. (see video)

While certainly Obama’s success and ability to expedite and realize his agenda has been a mixed bag, where their critique rings hollow is with the following:

“…he has failed to lay out a credible plan for what he will do in the next four years. Virtually his entire campaign has been spent attacking Mr Romney (sic), usually for his wealth and success in business.”

Much like the questionable rationale behind the Des Moines Register endorsement of Romney, this particular criticism sounds like it’s being ascribed to the wrong candidate!

Whatever the GOP may try to spin from all this, what they can’t spin is the paper’s stated reasons for not picking their candidate. As Matthew Herper from Forbes extrapolates:

The problem for the magazine was that there were too many versions of Romney—and, as they have outlined — those versions come with a lot of dangerous ideas, including:

Foreign Policy:  On foreign policy matters, Romney seems too ready to bomb Iran and he has vowed to label China a currency manipulator, something the U.S. Treasury Department has said China is not.

Government Spending: Although he would slash red tape on the domestic front, Romney said he wants to start with huge tax cuts yet again and dramatically increase defense spending. With what revenues?  Magazine editors said, “He is still in the cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking that America’s finances can be dealt with entirely through spending cuts. Backing business is important, but getting the macroeconomics right matters far more.”

Economy:  Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says.

The Economist’s most damning critique of Romney is one that has echoed throughout the campaign, expressed by many – from everyday people and fellow politicians, to pundits and journalists – who’ve questioned his veracity and slippery relationship with the truth:

“For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney (sic) has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive.” (Emphasis mine.)

Ultimately, The Economist takes stock of the pros and cons of both candidates, as they see them, and arrives at a decision:

And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama (sic) has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.

As endorsements go, particularly from a 169-year-old newspaper with a sterling reputation for clear, economic principles, this one is, as the British say, “brilliant.”

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