Category: Archive

For president

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

That’s how it should be: security, health, education, and the economy as well as core values are the priority quality-of-life issues for Irish Americans, as they are for all voters.
Both Barack Obama and John McCain have come up with imaginative and bold policies across all those fields which, they insist, will restore American stature and power, both at home and around the globe.
However, readers of this paper will also wish to assess both men on their platform, policies, and performance in relation to specific Irish-American issues and concerns.
In that regard, both score highly for their pride in their Irish roots and their commitment to Ireland. McCain comes from Scots-Irish stock and has, especially over recent years, weighed in behind the Irish peace process. Obama, meanwhile, has also reveled in his own Irish ethnicity and in the affectionate sobriquet, O’Bama.
On the issues outlined by the Irish American Presidential Forum and, latterly, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Irish American Unity Conference, both men have responded strongly. There’s no doubting, for example, but that they are sympathetic to the plight of those undocumented Irish who are contributing positively to America but who find themselves in a legal limbo.
McCain went a step further than Obama by appearing before the Forum in Scranton, PA, and for that he deserves enormous credit.
However, many Irish Americans were troubled by some statements and actions from McCain at critical moments in the peace process. He opposed a visa for Gerry Adams at the outset of the peace process, for instance, and at a March 2005 American Ireland Fund dinner in Washington D.C., he made a speech widely regarded as intemperate and unhelpful.
Obama, meanwhile, though making a temporary misstep over the question of a special envoy to Northern Ireland, has responded positively to matters of concern raised by the AOH and IAUC.
On two key issues for Irish Americans, he has gone further than his rival. He has backed calls for an independent inquiry into the murder of civil rights attorney Pat Finucane and has also committed himself to backing American investment (of the type pioneered by Comptroller Bill Thompson of New York City) in the underpinning of the peace process.
Such investment, at a profit, will strengthen links between the U.S. and Northern Ireland and the border counties and will be a key element of the next crucial phase of the peace process.
Both Obama and McCain are men of outstanding character, patriotism and resolve. McCain, moreover, is a true American hero of undoubted valor and grit. He has been tested more than Obama in a long life of service and duty and, quite rightly, will draw the votes of many Irish-Americans across the 50 States, not a few of them Echo readers.
However, with our eye firmly on the future, the Irish Echo believes that Obama will make the better president. We feel that Obama, surrounded as he is by top Irish American advisors like Richie Neal, Joe Crowley, Joe Biden, George Mitchell and, hopefully, Hillary Clinton, can put Ireland back on the White House priority list, a position it last occupied during the Clinton presidency.
As both America and Ireland look to address the many and complex challenges of this still-new century, we believe – and not coincidentally, our opinion is shared by the majority of the people of Ireland – that the fresh ideas, vision and undoubted potential of Obama make him the better choice for America, for Ireland, and for Irish America.

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