The Economist has endorsed Barack Obama for president.
Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead.
Yes, folks, that is an actual endorsement. Talk about damning with faint praise!
So Mr Obama’s star quality will be useful to him as president. But that alone is not enough to earn him the job. Charisma will not fix Medicare nor deal with Iran. Can he govern well? Two doubts present themselves: his lack of executive experience; and the suspicion that he is too far to the left.
There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job. But the exceptionally assured way in which he has run his campaign is a considerable comfort.
Yet another elite voice that is prepared to gamble the world’s future on a man whose only achievement is running for president.
And talk about indulging in fantasy:
Our main doubts about Mr Obama have to do with the damage a muddle-headed Democratic Congress might try to do to the economy. Despite the protectionist rhetoric that still sometimes seeps into his speeches, Mr Obama would not sponsor a China-bashing bill.
But he has already voted for a “China-bashing bill.” In 2005 he voted to slap sanctions on China.
That should count, no? And you’d expect a magazine called the Economist to know that, right?
Never fear: the best part of this is that an endorsement from the Economist is the kiss of death.
No candidate whom the Economist has has endorsed since 1980 has won a majority of the popular vote.
Here are the Economist’s endorsements in the past six elections, and their showing at the polls:
1992: Clinton (43.0% – won)
1996: Dole (40.7& – lost)
2000: Bush (47.9% – won)
2004: Kerry (48.3% – lost)
I’d say that the Economist has just inadvertently predicted that McCain will win the popular vote.