From the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch — Originally published Wednesday, March 18

... [W]e would like to applaud [freshman Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)] for a principled and courageous vote he cast last week. Warner was one of two Democrats (Robert Byrd of West Virginia was the other) who joined independent Joe Lieberman and 36 Republicans in an effort to preserve the popular program in Washington, D.C., that provides vouchers to 1,700 students. The $7,500 vouchers are far less expensive than the cost of educating one student in the city's troubled school system. Students use the money to pay tuition at private schools in the area. There is a long waiting list to join the program, which is designed not only to help the students who are able to escape the public schools, but also to put competitive pressure on D.C. to improve its schools.

The vouchers are clearly a big hit with students and parents, but not with most Democratic politicians, including President Obama. His 2009 budget included a provision that seems likely to kill the voucher program after next year — even though at least two students use it to attend the same expensive private school as the president's daughters. Warner voted for an amendment that would have saved the voucher program, which lost 39-58. Warner's Democratic colleague from Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb — who is not a big fan of economic freedom or of anything else that might offend labor unions — voted against the amendment.

Warner, on the other hand, took a step toward earning his frequent description of himself as a "radical centrist." He deserves credit.