“Barack Obama for President”

This morning, the third Sunday in October, a surprisingly warm and bright sunny day here in Chicago for this time of year — and if it stayed just like this 365 days of the year, no one would hear me complain — I awoke to discover that both of Chicago’s mass circulation newspapers had endorsed Illinois Senator and Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States.


Imagine that.  Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune endorsed a Democrat for the White House. — When was the last time that happened? 


According to the Chicago Tribune‘s "media" writer, Phil Rosenthal ("Endorsement ends drought for Democrats," Oct. 19), the answer is: Never.  His paper’s endorsement of Obama is one for the ages.

With Barack Obama , the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board has indeed backed a Democrat for president in the November general election. That’s something you don’t see every day. Or ever.  At a time when there’s good reason to wonder whether newspaper endorsements have any impact at all, here is one that — for those with a sense of the past, at least — has the power to knock the wind out of you, even coming, as it does, more than half a century since the famously conservative Col. McCormick left the Tower, so to speak.  Never before has the 161-year-old paper of Abe Lincoln endorsed a Democratic nominee for the White House, although it did throw its support behind Horace "Go West" Greeley, who ran as an independent but was eventually backed by the Dems in a failed bid to unseat Ulysses S. Grant in 1872.  One hundred thirty-six years is a long time. Heck, the Cubs have won the World Series twice since then. Twice.  The only time in the interim that the Tribune has bypassed the GOP nominee was in 1912, when it gave its seal of approval to Teddy Roosevelt, the former Republican president then heading the Bull-Moose ticket, over incumbent Republican chief executive William Howard Taft in advance of Democrat Woodrow Wilson winning the White House. Even at that, we’re talking 96 years — a span in which the Cubs have played in six World Series — a looong time.


As we can dismiss the Trib‘s ancient endorsements of Horace Greeley and Bull-Moose Roosevelt, today’s endorsement of Barack Obama boils down to the true first-time-ever for Chicago’s local Newspaper of Record.


Still.  Before anybody in the Obama camp gets unduly excited, I think it wise to remember that the reason red-white-and-blue Americans such as the editorial board at the Chicago Tribune reach momentous decisions such as this has nothing to do with principle, at least not principle understood in the dictionary’s sense of this word — and notwithstanding all of the other editorial boards around this country that already have and will continue to leap aboard the Obama bandwagon with their own eschatological renderings of the "American dilemma," and how this particular "post-racial" candidate is carrying out an historic mission to resolve it.


Just the opposite, in fact. 


Perhaps more so than any of its rival national newspapers among the top 10 or top 20 in daily circulation (though I’m dying to see how the Wall Street Journal finesses this one, when its day comes), the Chicago Tribune‘s reason for fleeing the Republican candidate this time around has everything to do with its assessment of the current state of the U.S. imperial balance sheet — the assets and the liabilities of the U.S. imperial system ca. 2001- 2008, both at home and abroad, and the associated demand that the next regime show that it can manage this balance sheet 100-times more efficiently and profitably than the incumbent. 


Among Americans, somewhere on the order of eight-in-ten believe that the regime currently occupying the White House has done severe damage not only to the national economy, but also to the international economy and to the long-term capacity of the United States to rule the world by force.  And even more telling, among those Americans who devote their intellectual powers to studying these topics, the percentage is probably upwards of 98 or 99 percent.  (About which, see, e.g., "U.S. Study Is Said to Warn of Crisis in Afghanistan," New York Times, October 9; "U.S.Urgently Reviews Policy On Afghanistan," Washington Post, October 9; and "Financial Crisis May Diminish American Sway," Wall Street Journal, October 17.)


In other words, the current regime has greatly depleted the assets of the U.S. imperial system, the prevailing judgment finds, while greatly increasing its liabilities.


Clearly, then, the Chicago Tribune‘s choice must be "Obama for president."


This takes zero courage, friends.  But 100 percent commitment to perceived material self-interests. —


How could the Trib choose otherwise? 


"Sun-Times endorses Barack Obama for president," Editorial, Chicago Sun-Times, October 19, 2008
Tribune endorsement: Barack
Obama for president," Editorial, Chicago Tribune, October 19, 2008
How the board came to endorse Obama," Paul Weingarten, Chicago Tribune, October 19, 2008
Endorsement ends drought for Democrats," Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune, October 19, 2008

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