In a fascinating decision, the Wall Street Journal appears to have all but endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States.

As noted by Brian Tamanaha of Balkinization, the WSJ virtually ignored John McCain in their obligatory editorial on the presidential candidates.

Instead, the editorial focuses primarily on Barack Obama, noting that he represents “a particular leap of hope” as a relatively inexperienced and unknown candidate but declining to argue that this risk will not pay off for the American public. The editorial opines on the mood of the electorate, as reflected in their willingness to vote for such a candidate this year, and lists negatives about Obama, but also praises him in relatively glowing terms:

To his supporters, such as Colin Powell, the first-term Senator has the chance to be “transformational,” the kind of gauzy concept that testifies to Mr. Obama’s unusual appeal. His candidacy is certainly historic, and that isn’t simply a reference to his Kenyan father and American mother. One secret to Mr. Obama’s success is how little his campaign has been marked by race, at least not by the traditional politics of racial grievance. He has run instead on a rhetorical theme of national unity, a shrewd appeal to voters weary of the polarizing debate over Iraq and the Bush Presidency.

Mr. Obama has also understood the political moment better than his opponents in either party. In the primaries, he used his inexperience to advantage by offering himself as a liberal alternative to what seemed like an inevitable, and dispiriting, Clinton replay. He then turned around in the general election to project sober reassurance amid the financial crisis, which was the moment when his poll numbers began to climb above the margin of error against John McCain. His coolness reflects what seems to be a first-class temperament. And while community organizing may not be much of a credential for the Presidency, Mr. Obama’s ability to organize a campaign speaks well of his potential to manage a government.

Perhaps this is the kind of leadership the American people want after the Presidential certitudes of the Bush years. Americans certainly are eager for fresh start, and it is typical of periods of economic panic that they may even be willing to reach for the kind of alluring but untested appeal that so marks Mr. Obama. Sometimes these gambles pay off, and sometimes they don’t.

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