Cindi’s ‘undecided’ column

    Cindi was off on Friday when I wrote my Sunday column, but asked me to fax it to her. She promptly told me that my original draft had described her role in the endorsement discussion inaccurately. I had correctly put her statement that she might sorta kinda be leaning to Obama AFTER she asked me whether a tie would prevent us from endorsing, but I had failed to get in the cause-and-effect relationship, which was that she wouldn’t even have said that much if I had said her vote would deadlock us. So we negotiated new language. But apparently I still didn’t fully communicate the depth of her neutrality, since some folks in their comments counted her as a pro-Obama vote. She insists, in this column and in private conversation, that she is still torn and undecided.

    I know from long experience with you partisans out there that you can’t possibly imagine that a thinking person could be undecided. And what’s particularly amazing in this case is that Cindi is seldom without a strongly held opinion. But be nice to her, folks. I understand her completely. I have decided whom to vote for in presidential elections more than once in the voting booth itself. So be patient with Cindi; she’s in an uncomfortable place. Also, I’ve probably already teased her about it more than a supervisor should.

    Anyway, add this to the overall endorsement package, along with the endorsement itself, my column, Warren’s column, and all the stuff that’s been said here on the blog.

Undecided, and awaiting an epiphany
Associate Editor
I BOUGHT myself two weeks by copping out when our editorial board decided whom to endorse for president. For all the good it’s done so far.
    One week to go, and I remain an undecided voter.
    I’ve never been in this position before. Never stayed on the sidelines in an important endorsement decision before.
    Oh, I’ve been undecided about what I would do in the voting booth. But that indecision wasn’t over which candidate to support; it was over whether I could hold my nose hard enough to cast my ballot for the candidate I agreed we should endorse, or whether to leave that race blank. What’s different this time is that I want to vote for both the candidates.
    Neither is clearly superior in my mind. Both John McCain and Barack Obama bring an approach to politics that is sorely lacking in Washington and, increasingly, throughout our nation. They see it not as a game to win — and certainly not as an opportunity to demolish “the other side” — but rather as a way to debate issues and reach conclusions that are best for our country. Both have shown they’re willing to look beyond party labels and rigid ideologies; Sen. McCain has a much clearer track record on this score, but at the same time, he  has strayed further during this campaign than has Sen. Obama. If for no other reason than their approach to politics, I believe that either man would greatly improve our nation.
    I much prefer Sen. McCain’s approach to foreign policy; not a week has passed since 9/11 when I have not bemoaned how much better off our country, and our world, would be had he been elected in 2000. But over the past year, we have watched Sen. Obama grow more responsible on the topic; he has demonstrated that he will surround himself with smart advisers, and Colin Powell’s decision to endorse him certainly has reduced my worries. I believe that either candidate would greatly improve our standing in the world, which would improve our world.
    I prefer Sen. Obama’s approach to domestic policy. He’s further to the left than I find comfortable, but I believe our nation has swung far too far right — dismantling regulatory systems, adopting policies that have produced the greatest wealth disparity in modern history between workers and executives; and say what you will about Sen. Obama’s health insurance plan, Sen. McCain’s would dismantle the very notion of “insurance.” (David Brooks’ fine column on the facing page does a much better job explaining where I’m coming from — on all but insurance — than I can.)
    What worries me is that a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress would swing the pendulum too far left — just as the Republican president and Congress swung it too far right. I do believe Sen. McCain would be far more willing to work with a Democratic Congress to make pragmatic changes than the current president ever has been, but I also believe that if the Democrats went too far, the voters would put Republicans back in charge of the House, the Senate or both in two years.
    I’m not sure that a more activist government isn’t what our nation needs right now. Both candidates have come to realize that we can no longer take such a laissez-faire approach to the financial markets. But we also need a president who believes in regulation even when the bottom isn’t falling out. One who believes the Consumer Product Safety Commission needs to actually look out for the safety of consumer products, rather than seeking to further dismantle the agency even when defective Chinese products are flooding our markets. One who believes the Agriculture Department should actually try to protect consumers from mad cow disease, rather than protecting the cattle industry from those who would protect us. I think Sen. Obama sees this; Sen. McCain, on the other hand, has a track record of pushing for deregulation, although he is much more a pragmatist than a devoted member of the Church of the Free Market.
    What I am not considering in making my decision is the venom being spewed by the so-called supporters of each candidate. Every new e-mail with the doctored photos and clumsily concocted “facts” about Sen. Obama’s alleged Muslim heritage pushes me a little toward voting for him — if only to disassociate myself from the racists who peddle such lies. But there are equal and opposing forces pushing me back toward Sen. McCain — most notably those self-satisfied souls who proclaim that the only reason anyone could possibly not vote for Sen. Obama is racism; what utter nonsense.
    These aren’t supporters. They are opponents of the other candidate, the other party, of anyone who doesn’t share their opinions.
    When Sarah Palin speaks glibly of Mr. Obama “palling around” with “domestic terrorists,” I am turned off; she’s counting on people assuming that he really is “palling around,” and doing it with Islamic terrorists. Sen. Obama and his campaign haven’t been nearly as misleading — you don’t have to be when you’re leading in the polls — although this “third term of George Bush” nonsense is wearing.
    What would help me decide? An epiphany, I suppose.
    But I’m not holding my breath. The last one of those I had was the sudden realization that there aren’t a lot of epiphanies to go around, that what we have to do is make a decision and act on it — act on it as though we had an epiphany.
    Fortunately, there’s no wrong decision this time around.

Ms. Scoppe can be reached at or at (803) 771-8571.

30 thoughts on “Cindi’s ‘undecided’ column

  1. Doug Ross

    Every word in the column after the following quote is invalidated by this statement:
    “Both John McCain and Barack Obama bring an approach to politics that is sorely lacking in Washington and, increasingly, throughout our nation. They see it not as a game to win — and certainly not as an opportunity to demolish “the other side””
    You guys really ought to take a look at these new inventions called television and the internet. You might sorta kinda find some useful information out there.
    Amazing. It’s like the past three months have never happened for the McCain campaign (which is probably what they are wishing now as well). No mulligans in Presidential politics.

  2. Brad Warthen

    "No mulligans in presidential politics?" Dude! Tell that to Bill Clinton!

    But seriously, I touched on what Doug’s talking about back on this post. Doug thinks that recent stuff you can find on television and the Internet should outweigh years of observation (and multiple personal interviews, going back to the 90s and continuing through the past year). As I observed, Doug’s position on this point is the same as that sincerely held by Obama backers, but not by me.

  3. Doug Ross

    So, again, as others have mentioned, your claims to be torn between Obama and McCain don’t ring very true. If you can disregard pretty much everything he has said and done while he has been the Republican nominee, then what in the world could he had done that WOULD have changed your mind?
    It was a done deal from 2000.
    The first sign of your man crush was when you completely glossed over McCain’s response to the “How do we beat the bitch” comment earlier this year. Since then, it has been obvious that your rose colored goggles when it comes to McCain have been firmly in place.
    As someone who supported McCain in 2000 and then have become progressively more and more disturbed and disappointed in him, at least I can claim some measure of objectivity.
    I fully expect you to consider O.J. Simpson for the Heisman trophy this year based on what he did in the past.

  4. bud

    Brad, you continue to make yourself look like a fool by suggesting that (1) your mind was not made up months ago as many of us believed to be the case, and (2) your endorsement was based on years of observations about McCain. I’m not going to allow you to get away with that crap. Both of those statements CANNOT be true, unless you believe the McCain campain with it’s tawdry negative ads from the Paris Hilton connection to the sex ed for kindergarters to Bill Ayers are legitimate political discourse. Just quite saying this, it makes you look like an idiot. Since I don’t think you’re an idiot there must be some other reason for this nonsense.

  5. Doug Ross

    The Pensacola (Florida) News Journal apparently was able to parse what McCain has done in the past three months in their endorsement of Obama today:
    “McCain raised questions about his judgment in his selection of an unqualified running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who, while energizing the “base,” has been a flop with most voters outside of what she recklessly calls the “pro-American” parts of our country.
    And so we ask: Where is the McCain who warned that President Bush’s tax cuts, without spending cuts, risked creating the deficits that followed? He now embraces them. Where is the McCain who once spoke with authority and reason on immigration reform? “We do not torture,” John McCain famously, and courageously, said. But he now supports a presidential veto of an anti-torture law.”
    How can you not at least question the motives and character of a man who has embraced nearly everything that he claimed to despise in politics just so he can win? That matters to voters.

  6. Doug Ross

    Another nugget from the Pensacola paper: We have watched Obama run an impressive campaign, responsive to the unfolding economic crisis, while McCain’s offers little more than that he is not George Bush.

  7. Phillip

    I would offer the following advice to Cindi as she ponders her decision:
    While nobody can make the decision for you, I would look to others who occupy the middle-ish sort of ground that you feel you do politically. Is McCain drawing more moderate-centrist Democrats to his cause, or is Obama drawing more moderate-centrist Republicans to his cause?
    The answer, to me, is predictive of the the real chances of bipartisan/crosspartisan leadership we can expect in the next four years.

  8. Phillip

    Just to update the newspaper-endorsement aspect of Obama’s cross-ideological appeal, the endorsement count is now 180 to 75 in Obama’s favor, and this now includes at least 35 papers that endorsed Bush in 2004.
    The Hartford Courant, in 244 years (!) has only endorsed one Democrat ever for President. Until now. They just endorsed their second. That’s almost on a par with the Chicago Tribune, which had NEVER endorsed a Democratic candidate in its history.
    Obama is clearly getting support across ideological lines. McCain is just not drawing the same kind of support. He’s got the base and that’s it. What does that tell us about the kind of governance each might provide?

  9. Brad Warthen

    You don’t know Cindi if you think she’ll follow a crowd. You need to persuade her that Obama is the LOGICAL choice, not the popular one…
    Doug, once again, with regard to the Pensacola thing — if I had been a blank slate on Labor Day, I’d be endorsing Obama now. No question, he’s run a better campaign. If you doubted it, just watch the returns next Tuesday night, and you’ll have objective proof, never mind opinion.
    You know, I’m having a little trouble understanding why you folks have so much trouble understanding that I could go into this general election liking McCain as always, and not knowing whether my mind would change. I’ll remind you that I was pretty strongly for Mark Sanford (ex-friend of McCain) in 2002, but eventually changed my mind. I do that all the time. For that matter, mentioning Mark Sanford — one reason we backed him in 02 was because he was up against Jim Hodges, with whom we had MAJOR problems. You know how a lot of people think I give Sanford a hard time? Well, a few years ago a lot of you thought I HATED Jim Hodges. But the thing is, before that awful campaign he ran in 98 (taking advice at every step from the abominable Kevin Geddings), he was one of my favorite people in the Legislature.
    Are y’all really not able to understand that I can observe a several-week period in which Obama has run a stellar campaign, and McCain has run one that at times looks like he’s trying to lose, and it still not be enough to change my mind — and yet I’m still not sure while I’m going through that process where we’ll end up?
    Some of y’all find that incredible, but knowing how my own mind works, it just seems completely natural…

  10. Brad Warthen

    Kind of a cool thing happened while I was typing that last comment: I couldn’t remember Kevin Geddings’ name. I actually had to go ask Cindi, and she had to think for a couple of seconds. When you think of the shadow he cast on this state’s politics at one time, the fact that I could struggle to remember his name is sort of a healthy sign for S.C.
    … or a sign that like that McCain guy, I’m not getting any younger…

  11. Doug Ross

    Someone else asked the question and I don’t think I saw an answer:
    “Would you still endorse McCain if he selected Sanford as his running mate?”
    It certainly wasn’t his reaction to the economy, his position on school vouchers or healthcare, or his selection of a running mate. And it didn’t matter that he engaged in the lowest form of negative campaigning (including hiring the same people who destroyed him in 2000)…
    So what would it have taken?
    A reversal on the surge? Would that have done it? I can’t think of any other issue that would have changed your mind.

  12. Brad Warthen

    Phillip’s last comment and mine crossed paths (I had to stop for a long meeting in the middle of typing mine)… I’ve got to say, Phillip, that you’re wrong to say McCain has “the base and that’s it.” Unless you mean his personal base. If you’re talking about the GOP base (the usual meaning), he doesn’t have that at all. He has a portion of it, I suppose — the national security part. Sarah Palin brings another portion of it, while turning off other portions of it, from what I’ve seen. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that the GOP “base” is no more monolithic than the Democratic.
    And this year, I don’t think you can even speak of the GOP “base” as being a coherent, effective political entity. They’re flopping around all over the place, which is why the Dems are going to pick up a bunch of seats in the Congress.
    That’s what’s made the conservative pundits so much more interesting this season. Several folks have complained I’ve been picking more conservative op-eds than liberals lately. I looked, and they’re right. You betcha. And you know why? Because the conservatives are more interesting to watch this year. Usually they’re unified and have talking points, yadda-yadda, and are boring as white bread. But this year they’re struggling, with themselves and with each other, as Krauthammer noted in his column the other day. You’ve got Kathleen Parker wanting to like Palin, and getting so bitterly disappointed as a result. You’ve got George Will just oozing disdain for McCain at every pore. You’ve got David Brooks struggling to construct paradigms for describing the inner struggle. Sure, there are some on the right, such as Cal Thomas, who are just as boring as the lefties right now, saying what they’ve always said. But I haven’t been running those. About the ONLY unconflicted conservative I’ve run has been Krauthammer, and he’s interesting largely because of that very contrast — HE’S not going to play Hamlet, dammit.
    Speaking of Brooks, I’m with Cindi in that the Hamiltonian middle he speaks of comes a lot closer to describing me than either of the poles do. And McCain comes closer to that middle than Obama does. Just look at a transcript of the third debate if you don’t believe me. Consider in particular the passage on judicial appointments.
    That’s one thing; McCain being able to COMMUNICATE effectively in this campaign to undecideds that he IS that middle option is another. I know it, because I pay attention. But even someone as observant as Cindi remains unsure.
    You know what I would be stressing more than anything else if I had written an endorsement of Obama? That ability to communicate, even the ability to campaign. It’s an important leadership function, and Obama has it much more than McCain does. That’s why he’s going to win. And I can certainly understand someone saying that means he SHOULD win. It’s not where I ended up, but I can see it.

  13. Joy

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would be undecided at this late date!? You would have to be simply ignorant and I’m not suggested that you are. You have had plenty of time to read the platforms of each candidate, watch them on TV, see them even in person maybe. There must be some deep down reason in your pysche that would prevent you from either voting for an african-american man or an older man. Which is it?

  14. Joy

    Oh, by all means, just forget what I just what wrote. I see you’re from SC, so I know the answer, and it’s not the older man you are afraid to vote for…
    Obama ’08 !!

  15. Phillip

    OK, you want logic:
    Either John McCain is really the guy we’ve seen in this general election campaign (in which case he richly deserves electoral repudiation) or he hasn’t changed much from the Straight Talk guy of 2000 and his entire 2008 general election campaign has been a cynical lie (in which case he richly deserves electoral repudiation).
    This is not meant to be an age-ist remark, though some will take it that way: Age does not always bring wisdom, sometimes it brings bitterness with it and a hardening of attitudes. This may be the case with McCain, the reason nobody (Brad excepted) seems to be able to recognize him as the same guy who ran 8 years ago.
    He’s Nixon in reverse. Nixon was seen as nasty and irrelevant after his ’62 gubernatorial defeat in California. He remade himself into the new Nixon for 68. McCain has accomplished a makeover in reverse for 2008.

  16. Lee Muller

    Cindi Scoppe is like a lot of white people who want to think of themselves and enlightened and liberal-minded, who want desperately to vote for a woman or non-white for president, even a mediocre one.
    Suddenly, they have both choices, but neither matches their dream.
    Barack Obama began as an empty suit, a resume purposely left blank by a life of no accomplishment, and no work to criticize.
    Then, like a sealed barrel of toxic waste, his veneer rusted and out leaked his smelly friends: Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farakhan, Rashid Khalili, Percy Sutton, Tony Rezko, Khalid Monsour, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dorn, Michael Klonsky, and a library of his writings and talking about their radical socialist vision.
    Cindirella’s Obama limo turned into a pumpkin, and his team of horses into a team of rats from the 1960s.
    The woman in the election, alas, is as far from Hillary Clinton as one could be. No rehearsed speeches, no phony lines, not the anchor woman PhD that most women in the press wanted to see as a a Super Themselves.
    Sarah Palin appeals to the working people that the press holds in contempt, and she isn’t here to please the press, but to server the voters. Most of the press, including many women, have responded with envy and meanness. While Mrs. Paliin discusses the vast philosophical gulf between McCain and Obama, her critics gossip about her clothes, her hair, her makeup, her children and her husband.

  17. Brad Warthen

    You’re ignoring the third possibility, Phillip — that McCain is the same guy he’s always been, and has run a toweringly INEPT campaign — or worse, let others run it for him.
    Either way, it’s an argument for Obama, and possibly the best one. It’s not enough for me, but it’s pretty compelling.
    And Doug, his picking Sanford would have been a tough blow. In fact, I read something the other day saying Sanford had been on the short list, and I find THAT really disturbing. But it was in the WSJ, and they were the ones pushing Sanford all along, so I consider the source. No doubt, picking Sanford would have been way worse than picking Palin.
    But you’re really onto something when you ask about Iraq. A lot of us (me included) have complained about McCain deciding, once they were a fait accompli, that he wouldn’t reverse the Bush tax cuts. But you know me — I care an awful lot more about national security issues than about what happens on taxes.
    But a better example of the difference between McCain and Obama is the stuff I noted about judicial appointments. McCain has been so demonstrably fair-minded and bipartisan on that issue (time and again, from the Gang of 14 to voting for Breyer and Ginsburg), and Obama has been so (surprisingly to me) doctrinaire, so by-the-book liberal Democrat. It’s on things like that, and — and y’all hate it when I mention this — the Colombian treaty that show McCain as closer to the way I think about things…
    Not that I’m down on Obama. Far from it. I think his presidency is going to be exciting and positive in a lot of ways. I just like McCain more.

  18. p.m.

    Here’s what’s obvious, Brad. The only people you address here, the only ones you call by name, the only ones you deem worthy for discussion, are the Obama lemmings — bud, phillip, karen, randy — unless you want to spit toward Lee for the sake of popularity with your pantywaist crowd.
    Pretend you support McCain all you want. You commune with your liberal brethren, and by so doing, you negate your supposed endorsement.
    “Not that I’m down on Obama. Far from it. I think his presidency is going to be exciting and positive in a lot of ways.”
    And then you say you “like McCain more.”
    Really? When you impute Obama has already won? Will you so much as bother to vote?

  19. Lee Muller

    Half the Obama posters here are workers for Obama. They have 200 of them working in shifts, tracking blogs for negative new facts about Obama, and trying to disrupt discussion with noise and insults.
    Here, the blog owner is so naive that he is flattered to have these paid cyberpunks and a few local paid hacks posting.

  20. Randy E

    Cindi makes tremendous points. Specifically, she considers McCain’s track record but takes into account his campaign. She touches on the Palin issue (but not as some touchstone of McCain’s judgment which is the only criticism I have).
    Cindi, I suggest that an epiphany could be their positions on education and poverty – social justice issues (calling all Catholics, Brad). McCain stammered out his position on education in the 3rd debate because it consists entirely of vouchers (I read his website). His position on poverty is to IGNORE it – he did not mention it in debates and doesn’t bother to address it in his website.
    How can we have a president who takes such fundamental elements of society as wholely unimportant?

  21. Lee Muller

    McCain’s position on poverty is equal opportunity to WORK your way out of it.
    Obama and his followers don’t believe in themselves. They don’t believe in work. They excuse their failure as being victims.
    Meanwhile, illiterate immigrants come to America, work, learn English, and become financially comfortable in the same enviroment which lazy Democrats find so toxic.

  22. Phillip

    Brad, when I said McCain “has the base, and that’s it” I meant his ticket (yes, including Palin) pretty much has the right-wing hardcore conservative base, especially the cultural side of it that fears Obama, that responds to stuff like Ayers, Wright, and code phrases like “real America,” “real Virginia,” etc. etc. That’s what I meant by base. I don’t that he has much support beyond that, as I expect him to win only the most conservative Southern states and Plains states and some Western ones too. Virtually all of both coasts (states that look outwards to the world beyond) are gone for him, his support is within the part of America that looks inward.
    The GOP in general is indeed fractured, as you indicated; the moderate wing, especially those more concerned with fiscal responsibility than with social hot-button issues, are split and many are going over to Obama. We see that from polling data, from traditionally red states that seem poised to go blue or at least come close (my goodness, even Montana now is within the margin of error!), from the many papers that endorsed Bush 2004 that are switching to Obama this time, from prominent Republican moderates either endorsing Obama outright (Weld, Powell, etc.) or expressing strong criticism of the McCain campaign.
    So the overriding irony is that McCain, who did not have the full trust or support of the hardcore rightwing base even after he clinched the nomination, succeeded finally in winning their love (mostly through the Palin pick) but at the cost of ceding the center to Obama. Thus, his necessary task of adequately distancing himself from Bush was doomed to failure, since his general campaign has made him seem more right-wing than he actually is.
    Hindsight is 20/20, of course; nevertheless, I think we can say that the Palin gamble and other tacking-to-the-right and the general tenor of the campaign brought him quickly into the lead after the convention, with a steady inexorable descent after that towards Election Day. However, if McCain HAD made the Lieberman gamble, or perhaps picked somebody else more moderate and less divisive than Palin, he would have limped out of the convention without deep “base” support, and perhaps far behind Obama; but then might have been positioned to steadily climb up and up towards November, more plausibly being able to cast doubt on Obama as the less-centrist candidate over time.
    The “base” over time would have (mostly) come back to him, confronted with a choice between him and Obama. Plus, the whole campaign he could have run (and this is predicated on your view of McCain as still who he always has been) as the McCain of days gone by, which might have made him seem more comfortable in his skin.
    Your question to Lindsay Graham in the Oct. 6 video about Palin “peaking” was indeed apt. She peaked about mid-September and has been dragging McCain down ever since.
    Many likened the Palin pick at the time to a “Hail Mary” pass; it seemed to have worked at the time, but in reality it was a completed pass from his own 20-yard-line to the opponent’s 15-yard-line, followed by a fumble which was then recovered by the opposition and returned the other way 90 yards for a touchdown.

  23. bud

    if I had been a blank slate on Labor Day, I’d be endorsing Obama now.
    I stopped reading Brad’s nonsense after this hopelessely stupid comment. If Brad wanted to endorse McCain then why not just go ahead and do so without all this “I haven’t made up my mind” crap. It’s not just illogical, it’s beyond any sense of believability.
    After the election I’ll read the State’s comments on other issues but anything regarding presidential politics is little more than crap coming from the State’s editorial board. They will continue to endorse the GOP candidate forever. Add that certainty to death and taxes.

  24. bud

    PM, I’ve stated many times that I would not vote for McCain because of the Iraq occupation issue. That was a deal-breaker. McCain showed his true colors with that. However, McCain could have at least earned a bit of respect in my eyes by running the type of campaign that he claimed he wanted to run. But he didn’t.
    On the other hand, Brad continued to indicate his mind was not made up about the election. Clearly that was bunk, he knew who he was going to endorse. If he was going to decide this on a lifetime of accomplishments he could have done that in June. Given Brad’s mendacity on this why should I pay any attention to a paper that has encorsed on Republicans for POTUS over the last 30 years while claiming they are unbiased? Like the president says, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, duh, uh, won’t be fooled again.

  25. Lee Muller

    Since the press was covering up the facts about Obama, why should McCain not force the issues onto the table?
    Why are Obama supporters so afraid to discuss what Obama has said?
    It is because you can’t defend his socialism, his racism, his life of no accomplishments, his backing by Muslim money.
    The campaign against Traitor Obama will not end with the election, whether he wins or loses. The truth will come out.

  26. Randy E

    bud, per the W trailer it’s “fool me once shame on you, fool again…er…uhm… well you shouldn’t be fooled!” – W


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *