By: Joe Strupp
Editorials the day after Barack Obama sewed up the Democratic presidential nomination and Hillary Clinton did not concede ranged from the San Francisco Chronicle and Chicago Tribune hailing the historic victory of an African-American to the Wall Street Journal warning that Obama still must be vetted.
USA Today declared: “Never before has an African-American been a major-party candidate for the highest office in the land. As he declared himself the nominee, Obama left this landmark accomplishment unspoken. But history will record this moment as both a monumental political upset and a dramatic statement from a party that was just shaking off its segregationist wing when Obama was born some 46 years ago.”
The New York Times and The Washington Post have not yet weighed in, though columnists for both took a crack at it. Maureen Dowd, in the Times, for example, wrote of Obama and Clinton: “He thought a little thing like winning stop her?”
In Kenya, home to Obama’s family on his father’s side, the Kenya Times devoted its front page to Obama’s victory, under the headline “Obama makes history.”
The San Francisco Chronicle observed: “The long wait is over. For the first time in its history, a nation that began by discounting the votes of African Americans will have a black man as a major party nominee. Barack Obama, the 46-year-old first-term senator from Illinois who effectively clinched the Democratic nomination Tuesday, could not have escaped the issue of race if he had tried. Today, 143 years after a civil war left more than 600,000 Americans dead and 44 years after the civil rights movement was embedded into law, racial divisions continue to manifest themselves in myriad ways.”
Philadelphia Daily News: “?at this moment, the most important person in the Democratic Party is . . . Sen. Hillary Clinton. In the interest of all the people who want to see a woman president in their lifetime, we sincerely hope the female runner-up will rise to the occasion. The way she chooses to exit the presidential race – if she chooses to lead rather than pout – will make a big difference in the general election against Republican John McCain.”
But the Wall Street Journal, clearly not an Obama supporter, declared worries about “The Obama We Don’t Know” in its opinion piece. The editorial stated: “With Barack Obama clinching the Democratic Party nomination, it is worth noting what an extraordinary moment this is. Democrats are nominating a freshman Senator barely three years out of the Illinois legislature whom most of America still hardly knows.”
It later added: “In Mr. Obama, Democrats are taking a leap of faith that is daring even by their risky standards.” And “We can’t find a single issue on which Mr. Obama has broken with his party’s left-wing interest groups.”
Both New York tabloids mixed their messages, with the New York Daily News touting Obama’s success and the New York Post praising Clinton.
“Here it is, then, an American milestone, the ascendancy of a man of color to become the presumed presidential nominee of the world’s oldest political party, the Democrats,” the Daily News wrote. “And a young man of color at that, a phenomenal standout from a new generation of elected leadership, far less tried than many of his elders but far more gifted politically.”
At the Post, the accolades continued, for Clinton. “?while Clinton may harbor regrets, she has no cause for shame. She ran a tough campaign, addressing the issues about which she cares most passionately,” the Post stated. “She won dozens of key primaries and proved her ability as a vote-getter across the length and breadth of America.”
In an editorial, the Times newspaper of London said Obama’s campaign “has rekindled America’s faith in its prodigious powers of reinvention ? and the world’s admiration for America.”
Meanwhile, writing here but for a newspaper abroad, Michael Tomasky, U.S. editor of The Guardian in Great Britain, said John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, “wasn’t getting an avalanche of press as Obama and Clinton duked it out, but the press he was getting was entirely positive, based on the story he was telling about himself….
“Obama has to change that,” Tomasky wrote. “He needs to put McCain on the defensive over his support for the Iraq war and for wanting to keep alive George Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. The real charge here is ‘flip-flopper,’ since McCain originally voted against those cuts.”