Financial Times Endorses Obama Despite Economic Proposals

     Even international newspapers are eager to acknowledge their support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, confirming what many already knew about the media position on liberal economic policies.

     The lead editorial in the Oct. 27 edition of the London-based Financial Times made the case for Obama – but not because of his economic policies, as one might expect in a financial journal. The paper’s editorial board instead picked Obama because they questioned Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s judgment and they preferred Obama’s health care proposal.

     “We applaud his main domestic proposal: comprehensive health-care reform. This plan would achieve nearly universal insurance without the mandates of rival schemes: characteristically, it combines a far-sighted goal with moderation in the method,” the editorial said. “Mr. McCain’s plan, based on extending tax relief beyond employer-provided insurance, also has merit – it would contain costs better – but is too timid and would widen coverage much less.”

     The editorial board questioned McCain’s judgment, accusing him of being “too much guided by an instinct for peremptory action, an exaggerated sense of certainty, and a reluctance to see shades of grey.” The editors also criticized McCain’s selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate.

     “He has offered risk-taking almost as his chief qualification, but gambles do not always pay off,” the editorial said. “His choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, widely acknowledged to have been a mistake, is an obtrusive case in point. Rashness is not a virtue in a president. The cautious and deliberate Mr Obama is altogether a less alarming prospect.”

     The Financial Times editors didn’t express any alarm over some of the rhetoric coming from Obama that has been deemed by many as “socialist.” The endorsement ignored Obama’s now famous call to “spread the wealth around” in comments to “Joe the Plumber” and the recently discovered 2001 Chicago public radio interview in which Obama expressed disappointment that the civil rights movement didn’t do more to establish “redistribution of wealth.”

     Instead, the Times touted Obama because he is “expected” to “reverse the trend of rising inequality.”

     “Rest assured that, should he win, Mr. Obama is bound to disappoint,” the editorial said. “How could he not? He is expected to heal the country’s racial divisions, reverse the trend of rising inequality, improve middle-class living standards, cut almost everybody’s taxes, transform the image of the United States abroad, end the losses in Iraq, deal with the mess in Afghanistan and much more besides.”

     Amid its criticism of McCain and its praise for Obama’s campaigning style and rhetorical abilities, the paper did at least question Obama’s protectionist trade stance.

     “He pandered to protectionists during the primaries, and has not rowed back. He may be sincere, which is troubling,” the Financial Times editors said of Obama. “Should he win the election, a Democratic Congress will expect him to keep those trade-thumping promises. Mr. McCain has been bravely and consistently pro-trade, much to his credit.”