The Plain Dealer endorsed Barack Obama for president today, calling him "a risk worth taking" who has "demonstrated uncommon grace, confidence and intelligence."
The endorsement fulfills publisher Terry Egger's promise not to repeat the PD's embarassing cop-out of 2004, when it endorsed no one for president. Back then, Alex Machaskee, Egger's predecessor, refused to endorse John Kerry, while the editorial board refused to endorse Bush. (See my Jan. 2007 story "The New Dealer" for more.)
“We will endorse,” Egger told a City Club audience in August 2006. “Whose decision that will be will be the editorial board’s. And I mean that.” He meant it. Today's editorial carries a very unusual tagline disclosing, "Members of The Plain Dealer's editorial board voted on this endorsement," and naming them.
The Obama endorsement completes the PD editorial page's journey from center-right to center-left. That shift is mostly a reaction to the Bush Administration. The paper endorsed Bush in 2000, but today's editorial starts with a passionate denunciation of his record:
"[America] needs a president who understands that, yes, the world can be dangerous, but it is also complex. That the United States cannot defend its freedom by abandoning its principles. That it cannot ignore its allies one day and demand their help the next. It needs a president who knows that optimism, not fear, defines America."