The ‘tyranny’ of having to choose

OVER THE last 10 days, we’ve started running our endorsements of candidates for state and local offices in the June 10 primaries.
    Our choices are the end result of a process based in years, even decades, of observation of the issues and institutions involved — and in some case, long exposure to the candidates. The most visible and obvious part of the process is the candidate interview (we’ve done 41 so far). But the process doesn’t start, and usually doesn’t end, with that ritual.
    Sometimes, our editorial board will produce a ringing, enthusiastic endorsement of one candidate over his or her competition. Examples of that are the ones favoring John McCain and Barack Obama in their respective primaries back in January.
    Such clear, unequivocal choices are rare. Far more often, we’ll pick our way through a thicket of pros and cons.
    But we always try to choose in the end. That’s because one of these candidates is going to occupy the office, and that matters. It affects your life. It determines the laws you will live under, how those laws are enforced, and the taxes you will pay. On rare occasion in years past we have thrown up our hands and said “We can’t in good conscience endorse either of these candidates.” But that is a cop-out and a disservice to readers, and I regard each time it has happened as a failure.
    In fact, I suspect that the most difficult and uncomfortable endorsements are sometimes the most valuable, because you can see us wrestling more strenuously than usual with the very issues you must consider as the voter, whether you agree with where we end up or not.
    Consider this excerpt from our endorsement of Rep. John Scott last week for the Senate seat being vacated by Kay Patterson (his opponent is Vince Ford, longtime Richland 1 school board member):

    Mr. Scott is the fighter, the man with a chip on his shoulder who, although he understands the big picture, often gravitates to smaller matters. Mr. Ford is the consensus-builder, smooth and polished and focused on the big picture.
    Normally, with such similar positions on policy, the better choice for the gentleman’s club that is the state Senate would be the candidate with Mr. Ford’s profile….

    But in the end, there is probably no greater unresolved challenge in the Midlands than the failure of our largest school district to overcome its problems. If we endorsed Mr. Ford for higher office, at what point would we hold anyone accountable for the turmoil, confusion and failures of the district?
    We wouldn’t have been comfortable either way. But we made a choice, and we stated why; make of it what you will.
    To contradict a widely held assumption, endorsements aren’t about whom we like personally. If that were the case, we’d have endorsed Sheri Few for the Republican nomination to replace Rep. Bill Cotty in House District 79. She’s smart, energetic, personable, and understands how the Legislature works.
    She came in with a deficit on our scorecard — her vehement advocacy for vouchers and/or tax credits for private school tuition. That made the choice easy two years ago, when she ran against Mr. Cotty — one of the most dedicated and effective supporters of public education in the Republican caucus.
    But as important as that issue is, it doesn’t automatically trump everything. And during our interview this time, I found myself mentally building a case for endorsing Ms. Few. But then, she brought up the cigarette tax, in order to make sure we knew she would never increase it, even in order to lower another tax. The good that a higher cigarette tax would do, in terms of fewer teens hooked on tobacco, did not move her. Her dedication to the ideology of never, ever raising a tax under any circumstances reminded me of how shockingly rigid she is. I was reminded of something I had written on my blog after we met her in 2006, that “she clings firmly to ideology, even when it doesn’t seem to fit her own experience….”
    She has many traits that would make her an effective lawmaker. But effectiveness in the service of an ideology more extreme than that held by Gov. Mark Sanford would not be a good thing. So we endorsed the less experienced, less savvy David Herndon, who was motivated to run by his wish to stand against some of the worst things Ms. Few stands for.
    Other difficult choices lie ahead. We haven’t decided yet what to do in Senate District 23. There, the leading candidates are Jake Knotts, a populist with quite a few, shall we say, rough edges, and the much smoother, more conventional Republican Katrina Shealy, whom powerful interests are backing in an effort to take out Mr. Knotts for the sin of having made an enemy of our governor.
    That one won’t be easy. It’s the kind of choice that causes me to have to remind myself that we are blessed to have choices. As tough as some of them are for us — and more to the point, for you as the voter — the “tyranny” of having to choose is far better than the real tyranny of not having a choice.
    And please, don’t you cop out. Read our endorsements — and read the rest of the paper, and the mailings you get from the candidates. Go to candidate forums; debate the options with your neighbors. And then, whatever your decision, go out and apply it on June 10. Because in each and every case, one of these folks is going to win that office, and will be calling the shots for all of us until the next election.

33 thoughts on “The ‘tyranny’ of having to choose

  1. Randy E

    Knotts voted for public funding for private schools, voted to table the pay day lender bill, and voted to change from property taxes to sale taxes.
    These are not the votes of a “populist”.

  2. David

    There are plenty of reasons to dislike Jake Knotts. I have my personal favorites and I’m sure others do too.
    His efforts to place more emphasis on sales taxes and less on property taxes are not good reasons to dislike him however.
    I say his tax emphasis is MORE populist, not less. David

  3. Carmen

    Warthen for governor
    Warthen for House
    Let us eat steak
    Let him eat souse
    And let’s tax it
    To save our palate
    From Judge Warthen’s mallet.

  4. david

    You take yourselves much too seriously where these endorsements are concerned Brad. You should eliminate them like you did the Saturday editorials. No one will miss them. I promise. Heck, look at the ridiculous number of column inches you’ve given them above! You STILL can’t let them go, and they weren’t worth a hoot in hell to begin with.
    Look, any group of “editors” that can be blinded or snake-charmed by an empty suit like Obama has absolutely no business making grandiose and affectedly important political endorsements and then publishing them in a newspaper.
    Now, I’m not saying that Obama doesn’t look fairly good when compared to his competition. I’m simply saying that, looked at objectively and sanely, he is spectacularly and undeniably unfit and unqualified for the presidency. It wasn’t so very long ago that the MSM did its’ job and called things what they were. Your Obama endorsement is proof that The State newspaper has lost any semblance of objectivity whenever your personal buttons happen to be pushed by some new political fad. David

  5. Randy E

    Now, I’m not saying that Obama doesn’t look fairly good when compared to his competition. – David
    I love it when someone contradicts himself in his own post. In the same post, David also blames Brad for endorsing Obama. So David, you admit Obama is better than his competition but then blame The State for endorsing him.
    Speaking of empty, how about providing some specifics. In what ways does Obama lack substance? Is it the Iraq “war” and his desire to channel the $12B a month to domestic issues? Is it his stance against the gas tax holiday? Is it the bill he sponsored and helped pass to help wounded vets at Walter Reed last year? Is it his plan to shift us to GREEN energy? Is it his push to pass the new GI Bill that Webb supports but McCain and W oppose?

  6. David

    Brad, I said I thought that Obama looked fairly good when compared to his competition, and by that I meant he doesn’t look quite as horrible when he’s held up in front the Star Wars bar scene consisting of:
    Joe Biden,
    Chris Dodd,
    Hillary Clinton,
    or even John McCain…
    My point is that the people he’s either run against and are now out (a la Biden and Dodd) or is still running against (Hillary and McCain) are each completely horrible in their own right and for their own reasons…and compared to them, Obama isn’t such an awful looking vampire.
    This seemingly obvious point is apparently lost on Randy, but that’s OK…he isn’t worth bringing up to speed anyway in my estimation.
    In any event Brad, what I’m attempting to get you to see is that, when faced with such a ridiculous field of losers on either side, there IS such a thing as a newspaper refusing to endorse anyone. You don’t have to endorse just because you can, and you COULD take the high road and simply state the obvious: NONE of these candidates are fit to be president. David

  7. penultimo mcfarland

    In what ways does Obama lack substance?
    Well, he hasn’t done a whole lot but talk. Of course, he has written two books about himself, and he says “I” a lot.
    Somehow — concentrating on his own magnificence, perhaps — Obama failed to notice that his church’s pastor was a raving lunatic who blamed the U.S. government for trying to exterminate black America with AIDS.
    To make it seem that some U.S. presidents had used the negotiation technique he foolishly proposed — face-to-face meetings with America’s enemies without preconditions — Obama claimed JFK’s 1961 summit meeting with Khrushchev helped defuse the Cuban missile crisis that occurred more than a year later, when there is some evidence the summit caused the crisis.
    In a recent speech in Oregon, Obama said he’d campaigned in 57 states. He later said Hillary Clinton had an advantage in Kentucky, being from the “nearby state of Arkansas,” though Obama’s home state, Illinois, borders Kentucky, and Arkansas doesn’t.
    So, in what ways does Obama lack substance?
    1) He doesn’t know the geography of his own country.
    2) He doesn’t know United States history related to foreign policy from the last century.
    3) He doesn’t notice what’s happening in the pulpit in front of him.
    4) He hasn’t accomplished anything of substance politically other than position himself to be the Democrats’ nominee for president, which, considering George McGovern, Mike Dukakis, John Kerry, Al Gore and Jimmy Carrter, ain’t no great shakes anyhow.
    And yet The State endorsed this shell of a candidate, and day after day passes without The State correcting its error by pointing out the multiplicitous mistakes of Obama’s mysterious ways.
    There’s 57 states and nothing on, Randy. The substance of things hoped for remains absent. Obama’s election would be faith misplaced.

  8. David

    Very well said Pen.
    If I had been inclined to waste the time with Randy, my approach would have been very much simpler: I would have said:
    “Randy, for the love of God, man1! Take just a moment to consider who and what you’re attempting to defend and apolgize for.”
    My hope obviously would have been that this shot of cold water to his face would snap him out of it.
    Your approach was very good though.
    Randy, you’re attempting to defend the indefensible. This is why I don’t want to take the time to engage you, it’s hopeless. But, at least Clinton has something approximating experience, and her baggage seems less execrable than does Obamas. If you’re going to choose among losers, pick the best I always say. David

  9. Randy E

    David, Obama is the best possible choice or the least worst of all choices in your opinion so you want to vote “none of the above”. Go ahead, but as Brad wrote, a choice has to be made and you have reaffirmed your position that Obama is the best choice of those running. Someone will be elected. Why not share who you think should be elected. Put some cards on the table in lieu of sitting on the sideline playing armchair quarterback.
    mcfarland, you use a misstatement of “57 states” as an indictment on Obama’s knowledge of geography? That’s so petty it’s laughable. David’s echoing of such an “evaluation” reinforces how silly you are.
    Regarding history, Nixon met with Mao. Reagan met with Gorbachev, and yes JFK met with Kruschev. No, the Kennedy meeting didn’t go well but it reflects a principle of his to talk. Thank God for such principled leadership which ultimately steered us from catastrophe.
    As far as your erroneous statement “he hasn’t accomplished anything of substance”; he sponsored and helped pass the legislation to help the troops who were suffering in Walter Reed. Such an accomplishment from a freshman senator was highly acclaimed. Perhaps if you would take a moment to research your positions, you wouldn’t have to rely on pettiness to bolster your indefensible points.
    And please share with us on this blog who would be a good candidate. Sorry, Cheney can not run again, he’ll have to return to Haliburton to oversee the overcharging and undermining of our troops in Iraq. Perhaps you want Romney, a man who could hold a debate with himself because he changes positions as often as Tony Stewart changes tires. Maybe you are pushing Ron Paul, a man who wouldn’t get Ross Perot numbers.

  10. brian

    I always like to see the State’s endorsements and what happens the day after election. Many times, y’all correctly determine the winner; but 90+% of the time, you still get it wrong. The State tends to drool and gush over some upstart, charismatic nothing, rather than look at the real issues. I really don’t know Sheri Few, but anyone in the West Wateree knows a Herndon and knows what they are about. He will be trounced on June 10th.
    Mr. Warthen, please refrain from commenting on candidates from Kershaw County as you do not know what you are talking about and you also have no stake in the results. Yeah, yeah, I know the arguement–and I still say you have ABSOLUTELY no stake in the results. I’m voting “anyone but Herndon.”
    When will you learn that we have a great–possibly the best–form of government in SC??? Why change a good thing????

  11. David

    Randy, I haven’t endorsed Obama. I’ve simply said that he looks better than he really is because of who his opponents are. To me, this makes him MORE dangerous, not less.
    But you’re right, I haven’t really put any cards on the table here. So, I will:
    -Under NO circumstances could I ever vote for Obama. Never. This man is a complete sham.
    -I would vote for Clinton over Obama, but only if she was the sole alternative to him, and that isn’t the case.
    -That sort of leaves McCain, but I’ve said in this blog repeatedly that I have absolutely NO use for this old skinbag. He’s better than Obama and Clinton to be sure, but that certainly isn’t saying very much. I really don’t like him, and I absolutely HATE that he somehow has emerged as the republican nominee when there were better candidates than he.
    So, for me, it comes down to either supporting McCain while holding my nose and hoping he doesn’t damage the country too horribly much…or…supporting a third party candidate. THAT of course will depend upon how insane Bob Barr turns out to be. David

  12. penultimo mcfarland

    Randy, were the mainstream media not bending over backward to be politically correct for your candidate because he’s black, his misstatements and associations with extremists would have driven him from the presidential race months ago. He’s strayed well past Dan Quayle’s “potatoe” and Gerald Ford’s East-West gaffe about Europe, but the press won’t push his mistakes, because, well, the press HATES Republicans. Apparently, you do too, else you’d see Obama for what he is — a charlatan.

  13. penultimo mcfarland

    Here’s the quote, Randy: “It is wonderful to be back in Oregon. Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it.”
    It raises a legitimate question: Is Obama more a citizen of Indonesia than the United States? What does he know about American history than Jeremiah Wright didn’t teach him?
    Who is Obama?

  14. Randy E

    mcfarland, “57 states” is really an indication that he doesn’t know how many states there are? LOL, I guess Columbia and Harvard must have lowered their standards. McCain confuses Shia and Suni repeatedly and you harp on “57 states”. That’s the sum total of your evidence. Silly.
    David, you concede that Obama is the best of the candidates but you’ll vote for McCain. That’s as reasonable as driving past San Jose’s on your way to Hardee’s to get their taco salad. (Maybe you can put some of Brad’s wild herb on it.)

  15. David

    Do you see Randy?
    This is exactly why I consider you such a tremendous waste of time. I truly regret that I engaged you on this, because you’re determined to get exactly wrong what I’ve said very clearly. Twice.
    You’re an idiot. I have conceded nothing where Obama is concerned. In my last post I said in Kings’ English that there were no circumstances under which I would EVER consider casting a vote for Obama. I went on to say that I’d vote for Clinton before I’d support Obama. What is so hard to understand about that? Is it that you SO want this loser to be considered legitimate that you can’t read?

  16. Randy E

    Brad, I said I thought that Obama looked fairly good when compared to his competition, Posted by: David | May 26, 2008 7:10:40 AM
    I’m an “idiot” for interpreting your own statements literally? I guess it’s hard to keep track of what you post when you don’t think through your positions.
    Bob Barr is a great candidate. His position is minimal global involvement, build a wall around our country, and every man for himself. He doesn’t address the economny, crime, health care, social security, energy, or education. I can see why you chose him – less details with which to concern yourself.

  17. penultimo mcfarland

    Actually, Randy, I offered more evidence than Obama’s 57 altered states, but you chose that part of what I wrote to harp on and pointed erroneously to that blunder as my entire case against Obama.
    Which explains why you support Obama obliviously. Like Mr. Warthen, you ignore what doesn’t fit your preconceived notions.
    May God have mercy on us all if the Obamanese get their way.

  18. Lee Muller

    Obama is a just a front man for a machine, like Woodrow Wilson was, like Truman was for the Pendergast mob, like Jimmy Carter was for David Rockefeller and his internationalists in the party.
    The M.O. is the same: pick a nobody without a record, have him talk in vagueness like Peter Sellers in “Being There”, and have the press savage every other candidate.

  19. Randy E

    mcfarland, your entire “case” against Obama as offered above (Posted by: Randy E | May 26, 2008 11:27:50 AM):
    “57 states” – silly for you to use this as an indication of his knowledge
    “he doesn’t understand history of US foreign policy” – Reagan, Nixon, and JFK did meet with adversaries and JFK was ultimately successful following his principle of diplomacy
    “no substance” – ask the vets at Walter Reed who benefitted from a law he sponsored to help them
    “doesn’t know what’s happening in the pulpit” – in the 20 years Wright was giving sermons, a grand total of 5 have been criticized as too extreme. One, “chickens coming home to roost” is the same as Falwell’s comment about 911, “God lifted the curtain to allow the terrorists in” and Hagee’s comment that Katrina was God’s punishment.
    Your evaluation of Obama is what lacks substance.

  20. p.m.

    Randy, just like Gerald Ford said Eastern or Western Europe, whichever it was, Obama said 57 states. Both were misstatements. Why blame Ford when I’m sure he knew exactly what he meant, but excuse Obama if you’r sure he knew what he meant?
    And how, pray tell, does that address Kentucky bordering Illinois but somehow being closer to Hillary Clinton’s Arkansas, which doesn’t border Kentucky?
    Did I mention the Obama’s “Oregon plan” to benefit the Great Lakes, which are 1,700 miles away, even adjacent to his home state?
    Furthermore, the Soviet Union and China are hardly the kind of adversaries with whom Obama proposed meeting without preconditions, and if any of those meetings occurred without precondition, it was Kennedy’s with Kruschev, which came darn close to producing World War III.
    Next, the sum of Obama’s substance is sponsoring one bill for veterans? How does that compare to McCain or even Clinton? It doesn’t. The man is about words, not deeds.
    Also, what makes you think I support Falwell or Hagee? The opposite of Wright is still Wrong.
    Finally, I live with Obamanesque BS in my county every day. I see what the effects of liberal policy and affirmative action, to use a polite term, have done to education there. The blind from elsewhere are leading the local blind, when the local blind aren’t leading the blind from elsewhere who are supposed to be running the show. This year they’re eliminating teachers and teacher bonuses while adding administrators in order to balance the budget. Never mind that they’re producing scads of uneducated dropouts while one little ragtag charter school they’re doing everything they can to shut down is producing better student results than the rest of the district. Maybe that’s because most of our special education teachers don’t speak English as a primary language. Maybe it’s because education has become a reparations experiment.
    One thing I’m sure of. Turning U.S. foreign policy into a reparations experiment doesn’t work. We’re the most powerful country on Earth, we have the best form of government, and we don’t need to apologize to anybody for it.

  21. Randy E

    mcfarland, you’d better do some research. Ford meant Eastern Europe and repeated it. He was speaking of Poland, Yugoslavia, and Hungary. Comparing this with “57 states” is silly.
    He hasn’t accomplished anything of substance politically – mcfarland
    I proved this statement was false. Again, I suggest research.
    I didn’t suggest you support the right wing extremist pastors, I was making the point that they said the SAME thing as Wright but he’s the one criticized. You attempted a specious argument about the pulpit in Obama’s church while ignoring these extremists on your side of the aisle.
    Regarding your comments about “liberal policy” such as affirmative action, misuses of policy does not equate with poor or superficial policy. How does the performance of some public officials in your county reflect on Obama? BTW, Students CHOOSE to attend the charter schools so the student body is inherently more motivated. The kids who don’t care about their academics will remain at the original school.

  22. p.m.

    Randy, it doesn’t take much research to determine you and Obama see the big picture in terms of what small parts of it you wish to keep in focus.
    By the way, in my county, parents, not the kids themselves, tend to determine whether or not their children attend the charter school. That may motivate the children, or it may have no effect, but if you visited this school, which has no windows, you too might be amazed that it is outproducing the rest of the district on average.
    Of course, you might not be amazed at all, since you obviously believe whatever you want to believe.
    I’m tired of being the pong for your ping. Go ahead, ping me again, I’ll pretend I twisted my knee so I can’t pong, and this thread will die the terrible death it deserved to die many moons ago.
    Still, I can’t believe anyone believes the sponsorship of one bill is accomplishment enough to earn the presidency.
    Then again, maybe the standards for Democrats are so low I can’t even imagine them.

  23. Lee Muller

    Obama is a mental lightweight, an empty suit with no accomplishments in his entire life.
    He appeals to mental lightweights.

  24. Randy E

    mcfarland, you make a universal statement about Obama accomplishing NOTHING of substance. I provide a counterexample and now you change the discussion. You pong yourself.

  25. p.m.

    Dang it, Randy, my knee is killing me, and I’m so busy ponging myself I hardly have time to type this while I’m waiting for someone to put a fuel pump on my lawn mower tomorrow.
    But, I have to admit, it appears you have me on a technicality, thanks to your being so serious about all this. That one bill is a political accomplishment, so here’s hoping McCain appoints Obama Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to reward him and the crowd at his altar.

  26. p.m.

    Oh, speaking of altars, how ‘about Father Pfleger’s curse-in-the-pulpit, “white entitlement” rant against Hillary Clinton at Trinity Church in Chicago, where Obama hung his spiritual hat for two decades?
    That would be the same Father Pfleger who has been one of Obama’s mentors like the Rev. Wright, the same Father Pfleger who has been one of his political advisers, the same Father Pfleger who actively participated in Obama’s campaign.
    Has it dawned on you yet, Randy, that the church where Obama spent 20 years might just be a racist hate factory?
    I can’t wait until the good Rev. Wright himself weighs in on Father Pfleger.
    Who knows? The rest of this campaign could be just one revelation after another about the hidden “character” of the Democrat savior with the Muslim name.

  27. Lee Muller

    Mama Obama hasn’t done much in her adult life, either.
    She was appointed to the board of a Chicago hospital at $126,000 a year as soon as Barak was elected to the Illinois legislature.
    Then, she got a raise to $360,000 when Barak was elected to the U.S. Senate.
    Since she only has to meet 12 days a year, she has lots of free time to make speeches telling black youth that they have no chance to advance, and are being held down by white people, so don’t go to work for “the man” in big corporations.

  28. Randy E

    That was more than a technicality. Keep spinning.
    McCain referred to Parsely as his “spiritual advisor”. This is the same pastor who HATES Muslims so much that he wants a modern day Crusades to “destroy” them. Let’s compare that with a man still angry from growing up in a separate but equal existence even after he served his country as a marine. Yes, he said “God damn America” in a biblical context, but that is not as hateful as wanting to “destroy” a billion people.

  29. Lee Muller

    News flash! Radical Islam is on a crusade to destroy America and Western Civilization, and they are counting on the cowards and self-haters in the West who think it is liberal and progressive to surrender to these mongrels.

  30. p.m.

    There’s no Parsley decorating my plate, Randy.
    You can have the Muslims. I’ll take the Christians.
    Five bucks a hole and $2 birdies, OK? Three-putts cost you a dollar unless you bowled 37 last night and you can document it.

  31. Randy E

    We are spending $12B/month in Iraq because we have to deal with the Muslim population, whether it be through peace or “war”. The man you support has a “spiritual advisor” who wants us to continue spending our blood and treasure to “destroy” Islam. He is most definitely decorating your plate.
    Who is more likely to start WWIII, McCain and Parsely with his provocative push for the modern day Crusades or Obama and some priest who made fun of Hillary crying?
    If find it amusing that you stay the course with McCain even if it means sending $12B/month of our taxes to Iraq.

  32. Lee Muller

    We spent $6 TRILLION on the War on Poverty, with no sign of a victory. I think it is time to surrender, and withdraw our taxes before we waste any more money on liberal garbage.

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