Time to do a Ned Ray on the Clintonistas

We’re still waiting, waiting to get Hillary Clinton in for an endorsement interview. We want to give her every opportunity, yet still get our endorsement published in time for folks to digest it.

Here’s my e-mail correspondence over the last few hours with Zac Wright of the campaign. (And Zac is by no means the only Clintonista I’m pestering.) Zac’s an ol’ boy from West Tennessee, where I spend the first decade of my career (’75-’85), so I’ve tried to speak in terms he would fully understand:

ME: Zac, we’ve GOT to get Sen. Clinton in here for an editorial board meeting!
    What’s our status?

ZAC: Brad,
    Pursuing logistics, but no further developments at this point.

ME: Doggone it, Zac, what would Ned Ray McWherter say about all this lollygaggin’?

ZAC: Now that was spoken like a man with real West TN roots!  I’m working on it and hope to know more COB today.  Monday is the absolute latest, correct?

ME: It would be damnably hard to go any later. But if you have something later to propose (say, early Tuesday) at least run it by us so we have the chance to refuse.
Our plan at this point — and mind you, this is already plan B, or maybe C — is that the board will assemble here at the paper (it’s a newspaper holiday, so people would be coming in just to deal with this) to meet with Sen. Obama at 11. Figuring that would be the latest candidate we’d see (because Obama wasn’t going to be in SC this week, and we thought Sen. Clinton would be), we were going to go straight into making a decision. (And don’t think having the last word gives him a leg up; McCain had the last word in 2000, and we went with Bush). Then Mike and I would stay the rest of the day to get everything written, but we would not publish until Wednesday, to give other board members a chance to see proofs — and to give me a chance to record a video as we did with McCain, and post online early (3 p.m. Tuesday).
A Wednesday endorsement is really late, in terms of giving folks a chance to respond. But we moved it back to there to give the leading candidates what we thought was plenty of EXTRA time in which to get here. Remember, we had really wanted to endorse on Sunday.
When you talk with the folks in your organization, deal with them the way Ned Ray would have when he was Speaker. I remember once the House was having trouble moving along on an issue the way he’d like, so he rumbled something like, "Y’all better get it together before I come down there and rip off some arms and beat you about the head and shoulders with ’em."

13 thoughts on “Time to do a Ned Ray on the Clintonistas

  1. Travis Jenkins

    To Bard warthen… You seem to be oblivious to the fact that when you call Senator Hillary Clinton a “Clintonista”, you are exposing your own hypocrisy… You are a treasonist, Confederate, johnny-reb seditionist, who cleave to that debunked “Article of Confederation” with its assiduous states rights provisions… You would trample all over “OLE GLORY”, in your haste to shower adoration and propitiation upon that gaudy colored rebel rag… Arrogance is ignorance that has aged and matured over a long period of time… Ignorance becomes codified in the minds of the ignorant as erroneous facts… Thank You

  2. weldon VII

    You could just publish a picture of you down on your knees begging, Brad.
    It’s sad you couldn’t just set a deadline and stick to it like you did for the Republicans.
    But, no, your newspaper usually makes exceptions for Democrats, even Slick Willie’s people, while Republicans have to play by the rules.
    Why is that? Can’t you see the bias it implies, and how that makes you look foolish when you complain about partisanship?

  3. Brad Warthen

    I did the same thing for the Republicans, weldon. But by the last two days of last week, I wasn’t getting any response from them. I brought it up with Jeri Thompson came in, but got no encouragement. It was made clear that Giuliani wouldn’t be here at all.

    The disappointment, as I wrote in my column, was Romney. We had hopes that he still might come in until those last couple of days. I was doing the same thing I’m doing now with Mrs. Clinton — going through the front door with the staff guy, but also bugging VIP supporters who might influence a decision from another direction. I pestered staffer William Holley (Zac’s equivalent). I got Ken Wingate to push the cause. I asked Jim DeMint, in person — twice.

    I raised the possibility of delaying the GOP endorsement as late as Friday morning last week. But no one saw any reason to do so, and they were right. Here are the factors that were completely different in that situation, compared to what we face now with the Democrats:

    — We had spoken to the two Republican candidates who were leading in South Carolina, McCain and Huckabee. We had spoken to them because they came in when they were first invited, months ago. Not one Democrat still in the race had come in (Biden had been here Oct. 1).
    — Obama’s people said he would definitely come in, but he would not be in the state this week. They offered a specific time. None of the Republicans who didn’t come in expressed their desire to do so, if only we’d wait until Monday.
    — By the end of last week, we were convinced that we had a clear preference in the Republican race — McCain. Since neither Giuliani, Romney nor Thompson seemed interested in trying to talk us out of that, waiting would have been pointless. The choice on the Democratic side is murkier. I don’t know which of the two frontrunners is preferable to ME, much less the board as a whole. That increases the stakes for an interview; I hope to get something out of these meetings that I just don’t have now.

    That’s, what, two or three times I’ve explained this now. I’ve been completely open with you about it at every stage, far more so than any editorial page editor you’re ever likely to run across. I don’t know what else to tell you.

    … except this: When it was becoming apparent that we’d have to delay on the Democrats, I knew we’d get heat both ways. I expected some Republican to say what you did. And I expected Democrats to say, "Sure, you put your Republican endorsement on a Sunday, but you bury the Democratic endorsement on a weekday." But there’s something here a hell of a lot more important than whether we get criticized: There is a high probability that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will become president, and it’s important that this state’s largest newspaper have confidence in its opinion as to which of them is preferable. We had that confidence on the Republican side. We don’t have it at this point with the Democrats.

  4. Brad Warthen

    And where do you suppose that Travis joker has been? And what do you think he’s on?

    Comments like that create a dilemma: I can leave it up, so that folks who have actually read what I think about such matters as the Confederate flag can have a good laugh. Or I can leave it up at a time when I’m getting a lot of first-time readership, and run the risk that somebody will actually believe this guy’s ranting is actually based in something.

    You just have to wonder what motivates somebody like that. Do you suppose that he’s the bookend to the neo-Confederates? He jumps to conclusions the way they do. They see me fight to get the flag down, and accuse me of being a Yankee. He sees that I’m a Southerner, and accuses me of being a flag supporter… We need to get these people together; they deserve each other.

  5. weldon VII

    You’re right, Brad. I’ve probably asked you to explain your interview process at least one time too many, and you’ve been good enough to explain things in some detail more than once, so thanks.
    But when you write things like, ”

  6. weldon VII

    “There is a high probability that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will become president,” you make me wonder what’s afoot in your obviously fertile brain.
    By the way, I hesitated to post under Mr. Jenkins at first, fearing I might be associated with his obviously inaccurate opinion of your sentiments on the flag.
    I figured you’d delete his post.

  7. Steve

    Huck just said “leave the flag alone” and virtually assured he will now win. All your ranting all these years and still it flys. No wonder Hillary won’t call you. Ya shootin’ with nuthin but blanks.

  8. Gordon Hirsch

    Sorry, Brad, but you still sound pretty desperate to get and audience with Her Highness. Maybe the conversations should have gone something like this …
    ME: Zac, we need a commitment today. We’re talking about a meeting with a public servant, not the Queen Mother.
    ZAC: Doing my best, Brad.
    ME: Not good enough, Zac. Sounds like we’ll have to go with a candidate who can make a commitment and keep it. Not much of that around these days, but maybe we’ll find one.
    ZAC: Let me see if Bill’s available. Are there any pretty girls on your editorial board?

  9. Gordon Hirsch

    Huckabee’s enlightened position on the flag came out again in The Sun News today. Funny how those Christian values of his play out at the local level:
    “If somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell them what to do with the pole.”

  10. Steve Gordy

    “South Carolina is too small to be a republic and too large to be an insane asylum.” (James Petitgru) Every time the flag issue comes up, these words come back to me.

  11. Lee Muller

    There is no “flag issue”, except the one ginned up by old-style black agitators and the white liberals who annoint them as “black leaders”. The rest of South Carolina is disgusted by a few stinkers trying to embarass the state in order to get attention for themselves.

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