The Times West Virginian

October 21, 2012

American people should be the true focus during 2012 presidential election

Times West Virginian

— Following the presidential election on Nov. 6, we hope there is a clear winner.

The American people.

The Times West Virginian editorial board failed to reach a consensus on offering our full support to President Barack Obama or his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, finding obvious strengths and glaring weaknesses with each candidate.

Obama, for example, has a record on energy — coal, in particular — that is not good for West Virginia and the country in general.

Remember the 2008 campaign ad against Obama: “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can,” he said. “It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

The president was absolutely right in his policy of looking toward the possibilities of “green” or renewable energy. A huge windfall awaits the country that best develops this technology. However, we don’t move decades into the future in one giant step. Fossil fuels will be a huge part of the American economy for years to come, and federal policy to ensure their adequate supply and promote their extraction and use in a safe, environmentally friendly way is essential.

Obama has said he’s for an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. The president, though, has certainly fallen short.

On the other hand, Obama deserves some credit.

The economy was shedding about 800,000 jobs a month when he took office amid the Great Recession in 2009. It’s not back to where Americans need it to be, but there has been progress. Obama supported assistance to the U.S. auto industry, which figures to be a major factor in the swing state of Ohio. Health-care reform passed, and though it remains controversial, provisions such as coverage for pre-existing conditions and the end to lifetime limits have broad support. The U.S. is no longer involved in combat in Iraq, and there is a timetable in getting out of Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was killed on Obama’s watch, although the terror threat has obviously not vanished.

Romney, with numerous successes through his life, offers the president a strong challenge.

Working with a Democrat-controlled Legislature, he did well as Massachusetts governor. Among Romney’s accomplishments was legislation to give many more residents of the state health insurance, although he opposes this concept on the national level.

He made millions of dollars in business and saved the Salt Lake City Olympics. Romney, indeed, has a track record of accomplishments, and insists the United States will fare better with him as president.

There are questions, though, about who the “real” Romney is. Once considered a moderate, he insisted during the Republican primary elections that he is now “severely conservative.”

Then there is this quote Romney made to supporters:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

We know Romney later said he was “just completely wrong” in making such a statement, but it’s an attitude of a potential president that bothers us greatly.

No matter who wins the presidency next month, we hope he enjoys a better climate for getting things done.

Remember this 2010 quote from Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Debate in Washington, D.C., is one thing. Open hope for failure is another.

That’s the most important thing to cleanse this election if the American people, as must happen, are to emerge as winners.

The Times West Virginian has elected to not endorse a presidential candidate for the 2012 election. We do, however, encourage each and every voter to give the matter deep thought and express their opinion at the polls Nov. 6.