Washington Post first of the blocks in endorsing Obama as president

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Washington, Oct.17 : The Washington Post has taken the lead among American dailies in declaring Senator Barack Obama as the man most likely to be the 44th President of the United States.

The paper says that the choice has been made easy in part by Republican presidential candidate John McCain's disappointing campaign, and above all, his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president.

"It is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes," says the Washington Post.

It describes Obama as a "man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building."

Domestically, it says that Obama would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation.

From the point of foreign policy, the paper believes that Obama would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests.

"Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good," the paper says.

Commenting on the legacy of the Bush Administration, the paper says that not even his fiercest critics would blame President Bush for all of the problems confronting him.

"But for the past eight years, his administration, while pursuing some worthy policies (accountability in education, homeland security, the promotion of freedom abroad), has also championed some stunningly wrongheaded ones (fiscal recklessness, torture, utter disregard for the planet's ecological health) and has acted too often with incompetence, arrogance or both," it says.

It believes that a John McCain presidency would draw on many of the same policymakers who have "brought us to our current state", while on the other hand, Obama offers a great deal more than being not a Republican.

It also clearly outlines the immediate tasks of the next president, the first and foremost being, restoration of the American economy. This will be followed by steps to arrest climate change, maintain American competitiveness, improve the state of education and promote a better health-care system, besides taking a decision on when to withdraw American troops from Iraq.

The next president will also have the chance to nominate one or more Supreme Court justices.

On the second set of issues, top of the list will be keeping America safe in a dangerous world.

While not taking anything away from McCain and describing his advocacy for bipartisanship as very laudable, the Washington Post, however, concludes that the stress of a campaign has revealed some essential truths, "and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is far from reassuring."

ANI

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