The “Tribune is proud to endorse him”, crowed the Chicago Tribune at week's end as it endorsed Barack Obama for President of the United States. Citing it's Republican roots and noting that the Tribune's first “great leader” Joseph Medill was a founder of the GOP, the Tribune broke it's 161 year tradition and for the first time endorsed a Democratic candidate for president of the United States.
Writing that “On Dec. 6, 2006, this page encouraged Obama to join the presidential campaign. We wrote that he would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. We said he would raise the tone of the campaign. We said his intellectual depth would sharpen policy debate. In the ensuing 22 months he has done just that”...
The editors continued: “Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them...We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator; to an aspiring U.S. Senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president....We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass, and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.” (1)
This is quite a statement from a journal that predates the Civil War. An early and ardent supporter of Lincoln, the Tribune has remained solidly Republican ever since, endorsing only Republicans or in the case of Horace Greeley in 1872 and Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, Republicans who were running as independents against corrupt or ineffective incumbents. Greeley, the Tribune pointed out, was later adopted by the Democrats. Nevertheless the Tribune has been a dependable Republican rag. It even endorsed Hoover, Wilke, and Dewey over FDR, Nixon over Kennedy in 1960,Goldwater over Johnson in 1964, even Eisenhower over Illinois native Adlai Stevenson in both 1952 and 1956 so predictably Republican has been the Tribune. Not this year, not this time. This year, says the Chicago Tribune, the paper is proud to add the name of Barack Obama beside that of Abraham Lincoln in the long list of men it has endorsed for President of the United States. On word of the Tribune's unprecedented action came news that the Los Angeles Times has likewise endorsed the young Jedi. Like the Tribune, the Times have also been a foghorn of the political right, and predictably Republican. To say that these endorsements are remarkable is an understatement. The ground beneath the political landscape is shaking, new coalitions are being formed, new alliances are being born.