It's easy to see how U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, became a friend and support-
er of Sen. John McCain.

The two have a good deal in common politically -- with reputations as mavericks un-
afraid to stand up against party or president when conscience dictates.

Early in the Bush administration, Sen. McCain was a constant source of, er, "constructive criticism" -- earning him the enmity of administration insiders and tunnel-vision ideologues. He was a man who could work with Democrats and push for unpopular (among politicians, at least) issues such as campaign finance reform.

That John McCain was an attractive figure -- a strong leader who would be worthy of endorsing. But that John McCain seems to have gotten lost over the last four years or so -- and especially on the campaign trail more recently.

This John McCain, the man trailing in the polls and flailing wildly, is almost unrecognizable. He seems desperate and unrelentingly negative, having sold out to the kind of Rovian politics that torpedoed his 2000 campaign. He's aligned himself with intolerant televangelists and others. He's been a strong supporter over the last four years of a Bush administration that clearly has failed on many fronts.

The selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a calculated and cynical appeal to certain demographics, was a fatal error in judgment -- especially when you consider he had the excellent former Pennsylvania Gov.


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Tom Ridge on his short list. Yes, Gov. Palin has some political appeal and might have a bright future, but she is in no way prepared at this point to become president in the event of calamity. She's glib and arrogantly ignorant of national and world affairs. She is, basically, a right-leaning George W. Bush in drag.

If the choice of Gov. Palin is an indication of John McCain's best judgment at a crucial, stressful moment in his campaign, then we can't trust him in the Oval Office. There is the hope that perhaps Sen. McCain is doing what he thinks he must to win the White House and then would revert to the old maverick.

That's too big of a gamble at a time when our nation desperately needs reasons for hope and confidence to overcome crises at home and abroad. Simply put, a McCain-Ridge ticket might have drawn this endorsement toward the Republican.

But we need, in the words of Gen. Colin Powell, a "transformational figure" to lead this nation.

Whether Sen. Barack Obama would be such a figure remains to be seen, but his remarkable campaign suggests he has more potential to fill that role than Sen. McCain.

His personal history is one of hard work, rising above disadvantaged circumstances, achieving and succeeding. A mixed-race son of a single mother, he made his way to Harvard and became the first minority editor of the Harvard Law Review -- going on to teach law and begin his own political career.

It's an amazing story, an American story, and listening to him speak and debate it's obvious that his rise is no affirmative action fluke but a result of intelligence, competence and drive.

His campaign exudes optimism -- much like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton did at times in our recent history when our nation suffered from crises of confidence.

Is Sen. Obama the perfect candidate? Certainly not. Ideally, he would have more solid governing experience -- but at least he compensated by choosing Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Sen. Biden has many faults of his own -- arrogance, foot-in-mouth disease. But he's qualified to run the country if need be and will be an asset for Mr. Obama as a foreign affairs adviser -- another thin area of the Illinois senator's resume.

Endorsing George W. Bush in 2004, the Daily Record/Sunday News lamented that in his first term he had governed from the far right with no mandate to do so -- when what the nation needed was centrism and principled pragmatism, traits that well characterize York countians politically. And we worry a President Obama, with a Democratic Congress, would veer too far left.

That would be a grave error -- and would result in a failed presidency.

Ultimately, though, Barack Obama, standing on the doorstep of history as the first black man with a realistic chance to become president, is the best hope for a nation that is searching for inspiration and whose highest ideals hold that all men are created equal.

ENDORSEMENT HISTORY

Previous presidential endorsements by the York Daily Record:

1984: Ronald Reagan, Republican.

1988: George H.W. Bush, Republican.

1992: Bill Clinton, Democrat.

1996: Bill Clinton, Democrat.

2000: Al Gore, Democrat.

2004: George W. Bush, Republican.

ON THE BLOG

In recent years, York County presidential endorsements have been a mixed bag. Read more at York Town Square blog.