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Chalk up another one for the blue team from a newspaper with a conservative editorial tilt. The Trib did it in 2008, breaking decades of precedent. Or maybe it was more than a century -- I can't remember. Anyway, Friday, they did it again, urging Obama to address the nation's debt crisis.

To me, this is a surprising endorsement. Even the Trib's news department has developed a decidedly right-wing tilt. But here's some of their reasoning, describing what was happening in the country after the 2008 economic collapse:

"There was little reason to think the rookie president elected that November would be more than a bystander as those dominoes toppled. But that rookie, Barack Obama, with quick study and sure gait, led an administration effort to stabilize the U.S. economy. Through that long passage, still incomplete, Obama often has exhibited pragmatism when conventional liberal responses -- As for me, I blame Wall Street! -- wouldn’t have surprised any among us.

"That record of pragmatism and focus in a moment of crisis, not his moves in any one policy realm, should help voters decide whether Obama spends the next four years gazing from a window at the Washington Monument -- or reading and writing at his red-brick manse in sweet home Chicago."

The Trib goes on to praise Obama's handling of world affairs, citing the end of the war in Iraq, the surge in Afghanistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The endorsement admits that, "On questions of economics and limited government, the Chicago Tribune has forged principles that put us closer to the challenger in this race, Republican Mitt Romney." But of Romney's economic proposals, it says, "His proposals to achieve a balanced budget, and to begin reducing taxpayers’ huge debts, rest on questionable math and rosy assumptions." The editorial also admits that Republicans have been nothing but obstructionists for the last two years.

Predictably, the endorsement asks that a re-elected Obama use ideas from the Simpson-Bowles debt commission to reach another "grand bargain" like the one Obama was trying to hammer out with House Speaker John Boehner. It ends with a plea "for the children":

"One of these decades, the children in which we now invest our hope, and our love, will speak with today’s adults about the America that we bequeathed to them. They will praise us for avoiding the financial ravages they watch other nations endure. Or they will condemn us for living ruinously beyond our means and forcing the enormous payback onto them -- a criminal act no previous American generation has committed against those that came next."

"Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney, whichever of you occupies the White House for the next four years, that praise or condemnation will be your legacy."

Not that this makes any difference. Illinois will go for Obama big time. Maybe the Trib was afraid of losing even more subscribers.

And if Rupert Murdoch (as has been reported in the paper itself; apparently they're in talks) does end up buying the Tribune Co., which also publishes the LA Times and the Orlando Sentinel, among other papers, it's probably time to cancel the subscription.

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