Sunday, October 17, 2004

A new day dawns in Chicago suburbs

The Daily Herald endorses John Kerry:
Our endorsement for president: John Kerry

In 2000, the Daily Herald endorsed George Bush, believing that his brand of governing offered the best opportunity to extend the nation's peace and prosperity without unduly expanding the federal government's role.

Bush's professed values of fiscal conservatism and social moderation are values this newspaper has long shared and are values that guided the Daily Herald in recommending the Republican candidate in each of the last four presidential endorsements we've made.

Neither peace nor prosperity was to last after the 2000 election. The economy was slowing by Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists killed nearly 3,000 innocents, crippling the economy and dealing a blow to Americans' sense of security. In the immediate aftermath, the president acted admirably, offering reassurance and sending troops to Afghanistan to pursue the perpetrators.

But before long, the president veered far off-course, and a review of his four years underscores that he and his band of neoconservatives have not acted conservatively in any sense of the word.

They have driven the budget deficit to record levels with no honest plan to reverse course.

With Medicare prescriptions, they have created one of the most expensive social entitlements in history while at the same time tying the hands of the government to control its costs. They have turned their backs on more than a century of Republican commitment to the environment and preservation of natural resources.

They have adopted a social agenda that calls for more federal intrusion into the lives of citizens and more power for Washington to override traditional state powers. All of these run counter to a constructive conservative direction. Most fly in the face of principles we cited in endorsing Bush four years ago.

Most seriously, the president rushed the nation into a war in Iraq that increasingly looks unwinnable, using a shifting series of justifications. The war has further destabilized the Middle East. It has siphoned resources needed to stabilize Afghanistan and hunt down Osama bin Laden's organization and face tyrannies that appear even more threatening in Iran and North Korea. We simply cannot endorse this record or the man most responsible for it.

In Democrat John Kerry, voters have an imperfect candidate and one whose own direction can be frustratingly difficult to read. Kerry offers no easy answers to what he accurately terms the mess in Iraq, because easy answers do not exist.

Where we find hope in Kerry's leadership on foreign affairs is not in his somewhat naive vow to entice allies into the fray but in his recognition that the United States must more wisely allocate its finite efforts and resources if we are to prevail in the war on terrorism . Kerry, we believe, would place appropriately greater emphasis on such essential matters as securing nuclear material abroad and tightening our borders at home. Kerry knows from personal experience that wars unleash terrible, unforeseen consequences; we believe he would be admirably more restrained than Bush in placing U.S. troops in harm's way.

Even in the likely event that he fails to persuade allies to share the burden in Iraq, a President Kerry, we believe, would in other ways work more effectively with world leaders to build a strong global network to fight terrorism.

On domestic policy, Kerry wisely recommends rolling back Bush's tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, cuts that have helped fuel budget deficits. He would, we believe, work to reverse decisions damaging to the environment and to hasten the development of alternative energy sources that would reduce reliance on Middle Eastern oil. He proposes some policies that would benefit small business, construction and engineering sectors.

Kerry, we acknowledge, stands to the left of this newspaper on many issues. To restore fiscal order and responsibility, he must leave behind some of the social programs he favors. As a practical matter, a check on his more liberal instincts might be provided by a Congress that is likely to remain in Republican hands - although this Congress has aided and abetted the Bush administration's building of record deficits.

Do voters have an inspiring choice? No. Faced with two imperfect candidates, the Daily Herald endorses John Kerry for president.

Now, if only they would just do something about their awful comics page...

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