The problem with editorial endorsements is that it alerts readers to
thought processes and reasoning of those making them…
…you point to the precise reason that my colleagues and I on the board write columns — to elaborate on the reasons we endorse, to give readers additional insight into our thinking so that they have more information upon which to base a judgment of our decision, whatever they choose to make of it. The point of my doing the blog is to go even a little deeper into all that, to give you the chance (if you’re at all interested) to know even more about how the editorial page editor ticks, so that you might have even more insight into the editorials. It’s so you don’t have to guess.
The whole point of an endorsement editorial, as I’ve said a thousand times, is not the WHO, but the WHY — the "thought processes and reasoning" behind the decision. It’s really hard to get that message across, because it’s counterintuitive for a lot of folks. It’s not personal, as a Corleone would say. The fact is that — in this case — one of these two men is going to be governor. The purpose of an endorsement is to say, knowing what we know (and in part, what we know is based on dealing with these men repeatedly over the course of years), which way we would go if we just have to vote for one of them.
Our reasons, and the reasons behind our reasons, are all we have to offer you. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about whose side we’re on, or who we "like." If we went on the basis of who we like, I’d probably have gone with Sanford. I know him, and I personally like him. I really have to force myself to look at what he’s doing (and not doing) as governor and shove aside the fact that I like the guy.
I can’t say the same for Tommy Moore, which is not to run him down. I just don’t know him as well. I’ve known him at a distance for almost two decades — much longer than Sanford. But I knew him as an editor dealing with the information that reporters (usually Cindi Scoppe, back in her reporting days) brought to me about him. Mark Sanford I’ve dealt with directly, ever since he was in Congress, because his political career began about the same time I joined the editorial board.
I’ve also dealt with him more because he’s a wonk like us. He’s more into talking about issues than he is about doing anything. I’ve had the impression that he’d rather pick up the phone to chat with me for 45 minutes about some political theory than sit down and wheedle lawmakers to turn ideas into laws. (At least, he was inclined to do that until a few months ago. I don’t think I’ve heard from him at all since my column about his veto of the budget.)
Sen. Moore has never spent much time talking to editorial types — at least, not to me. He was over in the State House, getting stuff done. Since he wasn’t trying to accomplish abstract goals, he had nothing to chat about with perpetual talkers. So I don’t know him that well. I don’t think he’s figured us out, either. To him, I’m that guy who wrote that he didn’t have the "fire in the belly," and he knows he didn’t like that.
So why did we not endorse Mark Sanford? Read the endorsement. Then read my column. Then read other columns. Then read everything you can get your hands on, and talk to everyone you know who might know more about these guys and the issues than you do. Then go out and vote any way you think is best.
If you do that, having made our endorsement even a small part of your own process — even if it’s only to tick you off and make you want to do the opposite, and to work harder to find reasons why we’re wrong — then I will have done my job.
Oops. There I go. Revealing thought processes and reasoning again. Sorry. (Not.)
(One other thing, though, Chris — your comment sort of loses me when you jump from editorial to news coverage, as though there were a connection. If you’re suggesting that what we do has anything to do with what the news department does, you are confused. Reporters, and their editors, would likely laugh their heads off at the idea that they agree with our conclusions. That is, they would if so many people, including sometimes candidates, didn’t make the same assumption you do, which is a major professional pain for them. I think most news people would just as soon the editorial page go away, as it causes them little but grief. Good thing there’s a high wall between our separate divisions to protect us — there are a lot more of them than there are of us.)