So should bradwarthen.com endorse candidates?

With the Columbia mayoral election coming up rapidly, and state primaries not far behind, I’ve been pondering the Big Question:

Should bradwarthen.com endorse?

On the one hand, I think, Duh, of course I will. But that’s sort of habit speaking, a matter of inertia: I’ve been endorsing candidates in elections so long that I think that’s the purpose of interviews. If I’m not going to endorse, what’s the point?

On the other hand, I think, I no longer have the obligation to endorse the way I did with I headed The State’s editorial board, so that’s one headache I can dispense with.

There are pros and cons, and here are a few of them (I’m sure there  are others I’m forgetting):

Pros

  • Knowing you have to endorse, and justify it to your readers, focuses the mind wonderfully on what’s going on in a given election. You have to examine the candidates and the issues on a deeper level than if you were merely tossing out random comments. Questions occur to you that simply wouldn’t occur otherwise, and you have to press to get them answered. The process therefore adds value for readers.
  • Not endorsing is wimping out. I’ve said that for years as editorial page editor, and meant it. To offer opinions from day to day, and then not offer an opinion about the one major political decision that we all get to make, is to wimp out, and fail to do all you can for readers.
  • If anything, a blog is a better forum for endorsements than a newspaper. Here’s why: As I’ve explained over and over in recent years, the point of an endorsement isn’t to “tell you how to vote.” It’s to present a well-constructed argument as to why one candidate is better, which readers can set alongside all the other arguments they see on the subject. Through this dialectic the reader thinks harder about the decision he ultimately makes as a voter, and democracy is served. On the blog, the discussion that the endorsement engenders is (virtually) immediate and in more-or-less real time, and therefore livelier.
  • I suspect — I don’t know this, but I suspect — that The State isn’t going to do as many endorsements as it has in past year, because of time and staff constraints. If so, that leaves a hole that I can at least partly fill.
  • It would certainly be easier to have consistency of voice in the endorsements, since I would be the sole decision-maker. (I’m not sure it would make the choices easier, though — I’m capable of having terrific arguments with myself. The nice thing about being on an editorial board is that if I’m ambivalent about a choice, I can solve the dilemma by going along with the consensus. No more. I’d have to make the decision myself, which would involve an additional level of self-discipline.)

Cons

  • This is an opinion blog, but it also reports. And I know from feedback over the years that the endorsements by the editorial board create problems for the reporters down in the newsroom. The endorsements have zero to do with them, but they have trouble convincing the candidates — or at least, the less sophisticated candidates — of that. And suddenly they have barriers to contend with they wouldn’t have otherwise. How much harder would my job as blogger become if I started endorsing?
  • I would have to write all the endorsements myself, whereas at The State I wrote very few of them. I attended all the interviews (I was the only member of the board who did, because I thought that continuity was important — I was the element that ensured a consistency of voice) and presided over the decisions we made, often dictating the language for the endorsement editorials, but I had other people to write most of them — people who had researched those races more thoroughly than I had. So aside from all the work this would create, to what extent could I maintain quality?
  • This is related to the first “con.” It is my intention to start running advertising on my blog, and I expect that a lot of that advertising would be from political campaigns. The same sort of conflict arises as with the reporting function. I would no more be insulated from the “advertising department” of the blog than I am from the “newsroom.” What difficulties would this create? Frankly, I don’t think it would create any for me — I’m enough of a jerk (actually, I’m freakishly independent-minded, but that would sound like self-praise, so I just said “jerk”) that I don’t mind a bit endorsing the opponent of a candidate who just spent a lot of money with me. I wouldn’t give it a second’s thought. But it would certainly engender doubt and confusion in the minds of others.
  • Above, I listed being the sole decision-maker as a “pro.” It’s also a “con.” With an editorial board, you have ballast — you have a group of smart people steadying you and keeping you from going off on a wild hair, or a wild hare for that matter. As my former colleagues can tell you they pulled me back from the brink a lot. On the other hand, maybe if I went over the brink occasionally it would lead to more interesting, and therefore more productive, discussions…

I’ll think of some of the other pros and cons later, but I think those are enough for a conversation starter. For some of the columns I’ve written in the past explaining about endorsements from the newspaper perspective, look back here.

42 thoughts on “So should bradwarthen.com endorse candidates?

  1. Patrick Cleary

    To make it simple: I really want to see your endorsements. Your reasoning and explanation help enlighten the debate about candidates. I might well disagree with your endorsements, but you certainly contribute to the informed electorate.

    I recognize the drawbacks and limitations that you mention. I think the comment policy will counterbalance your singular perspective. I know nothing about the advertising angle, but I assume others can help you with that angle.

    I wonder if you would consider trying the endorsement policy for a single primary race as a trial effort.

  2. Burl Burlingame

    More and more newspapers are getting out of endorsing. It’s a naked attempt to appeal to all readers equally. But also undercuts the credibility of the editorial voice.

  3. Burl Burlingame

    Yes. Why have an editorial voice otherwise, if not to offer advice?

    Incredibly, our major newspaper competition did not endorse for president in the last election — in Barack Obama’s home town!

  4. Walter

    Just remember that future employers will use this blog just as employers are using Facebook. If a potential employer views and disagrees with your endorsements, your application goes in the round file cabinet next to the desk. If it were me, and I wanted to stay in journalism I’d be staying as neutral as possible… but that foot might be already be shot.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    I pretty much never agreed with your endorsements of the sort of major candidates I actually knew enough about to form opinions on, yet, perhaps incongruously, usually voted for the lesser known ones you endorsed.
    Seems like a lot of work, might hurt your ad chances, and I prefer to vote my own preferences anyway….except for the minor candidates we should probably not even be voting on in the first place, so “No.”

  6. HP

    Walter – why do you ALWAYS want to rain on Brad’s parade? He has over a half-century RL experience dealing with politicians and us sad, sad humans who rally ’round their cause. Why not encourage him to give his take on the situation? Surely he is by now set at an innate neutral. This would be a byproduct of his military upbringing (which leans conservative in “normal” times) and his career as a journalist (which causes even the best of us to tilt leftward).

    Brad, my two cents is that you should do with Walter’s opines what my husband has learned over many longsuffering years to do with mine: exactly the opposite.

    When we are on a road trip and lost — and I tell him he should take a right, he now instinctively takes a left. And vice versa. We have miraculously arrived at our intended destination for over two decades now.

  7. Kathryn Fenner

    Don’t even give Walter’s opinions the value of opposing them. Take them for whatever they are worth.

  8. Doug Ross

    If you do endorsements, please just pick one candidate from one party and stick with him. Don’t give us one Democrat and one Republican and then when they lose in the primary, pick a different person in the general. That’s not endorsing someone, it’s trying to pick a winner.

  9. Elliott

    I agree with Kathryn. I think it will hurt in selling ads. You can give us information and opinions without formally endorsing candidates. We’ll have the information and hopefully you won’t make a candidate whom you didn’t endorse so angry that he’ll never buy advertising from you again. You might not mind endorsing an advertiser’s opponent, but the same candidates tend to run in many elections and the nonendorsed candidate would probably remember the endorsement in the next election. Of course, my goal is selfish. I want you to make a good income from this blog so you do not need to work anywhere else. You are a businessman now as well as a journalist, and businessmen do not alienate their customers.

  10. bud

    Even though you generally make the wrong call on the big elections I say go for it. (Example: The worst endorsement in the history of journalism was your 2004 call for POTUS). Staying neutral really would make for a very dull blog.

  11. Brad Warthen

    Oh, did you think Walter thought that was a real zinger from Doug? Nah, that was just Doug being Doug.

    Doug knows it’s not about picking winners, even though nearly 75 percent of our endorsements DID win over the years. If we had been trying to pick winners, we’d have done a lot better than that. I’ve conducted little experiments in the past to illustrate that. For instance, if you look back here to November 2009, you’ll find an assessment both of how the candidates we had endorsed did, as well as the predictions I had made separately on the blog (something I never did in the paper, for the very reason that I would never want anyone confusing the predictions with endorsements). You’ll see that out of 14 contested races, I got 13 right on my predictions, and the one I got wrong was one I had been pretty tentative about. That’s a percentage of about 93 percent, as opposed to the (unusually low) success rate of 69 percent for our endorsees.

    I’ve heard a number of objections over the years to endorsing in primaries as well as the general. None of them have made any sense to me. Most of the objections have to do with “respecting” the parties’ processes, which you know I’d never do. The (bad) theory being that you shouldn’t express an opinion about a primary unless you’re a member of that party. What stuff.

    If you DON’T endorse in a primary, then you are declaring surrender to the parties. You’re saying, I’m only going to allow myself to choose between these two people the parties came up with. No way am I going for that. I have every right to pick from the entire field, and point out which are the best from each batch.

    Then — and Doug really has trouble getting his head around this — when you find yourself in the general, and (as too often happens) NEITHER of the candidates on the ballot is to your liking, you have just as great an obligation (if you are in the endorsing biz) to point out which is the lesser of two weevils, as Jack Aubrey would have it. For another allusion, as Jubal Harshaw said, “There’s always a difference! This is between ‘bad’ and ‘worse’ — which is much sharper than between ‘good’ and ‘better.'”

    What are you supposed to say at that point if you don’t like either of the candidates? If you’re honest, you’ll complain about the results of the primary and say candidates X and Y should have gotten their respective parties’ nominations instead of candidates a and b. But what right have you to complain at THAT late date if you didn’t say that BEFORE the primaries?

    If you’re endorsing, you have the obligation to say which candidates would be best from the ENTIRE, pre-primary, field, and then, when the poor voters’ options have been narrowed, you have every bit as great a responsibility to contribute to the decision about what’s left. Ditto when you have the happy happenstance that we saw in the 2008, election, when (for the only time in my life) the best candidate from each party had been nominated for president. You say honestly that you like them both, but explain why you prefer one over the other (and then endure the screams of your friends on the OTHER good candidate’s side for the rest of your life; not that I’m complaining…).

  12. Anonymous

    Walter’s “Ouch” means he knows he is bad but has no intention of reforming. Though it seems masochistic, it is not. Some men like — even seek — being scolded as they associate this with love.

    [Can you tell I really wanted to study psychiatry in college, but was forced to study something else by my father who paid for my education and swears that psychiatry is the domain of “pinko communists?” We all have our issues.]

    You’ve got yourself some real pieces of work here, Brad.

  13. Walter

    My “Ouch” comment wasn’t in response to Doug. It was a response to HP and Kathryn Fenner’s posts.

    I would be interested in hearing KP’s reasoning though… He/She posted the question, now I think it’s only fair for me to ask why she brings this up. Otherwise I might as well ask if we can have KP bumped from the blog… with the same reasoning.

  14. Doug Ross

    I wasn’t trying to be flippant about it. I just think it’s a bizarre process to say, “I prefer candidate X for one party and candidate Y in the other party” even when candidates X and Y may have opposing views on issues. And then when X and Y lose, you chose Z who may have even fewer reasons for you to vote for him. I think a vote for the “lesser of two evils” just because one of them “has to” win is a cop out.

    Personally, if I don’t like a candidate, I won’t vote for him even if I don’t like him less than the other guy. After I voted for Ron Paul in the primary, I wasn’t going to vote for McCain or Obama. That would be silly. Neither McCain or Obama represented my views.

    Which goes back the The State’s “Two Faces of Brad” endorsement policy. To endorse Lieberman in the 2004 primary and then Bush in the general defies all reason. Had Lieberman won, his presidency would have been completely different than Bush’s.

    To claim to have struggled over the Obama/McCain endorsement when everyone who ever read your blog knew it was going to be McCain (despite the fact that he would NEVER give you the healthcare system you want) was, how can I say this politely, an over-the-top effort. I’ll never be convinced that it was going to be anyone but McCain. (save your energy from trying to convince me).

    Pick someone and stick with him. Or at least pick a party and stick with it. You can’t pick McMaster or Shaheen and then later pick Andre Bauer (just an example) over Dwight Drake.

  15. Susan

    Is endorsing any different than saying “Here’s who I plan to vote for?” Because I feel like I want to know who you plan to vote for, and why, but somehow endorsing sounds closer to “advocating for” to me, which I don’t care for as much. Makes you more of a politically partisan animal (who’s trying to persuade me) than a journalistic one (who’s trying to make sure I know/understand the candidates).

    Don’t know why I don’t feel that way as much about the newspaper doing it — maybe because I know that was done by a group of people who maybe personally came down on different sides of the issue, and had to come to some sort of consensus where their individual partisanship was tempered by others.

    I agree that endorsing separately for the primary and the general election makes more sense.

    In the end, of course, I’ll read your blog and be happy with it either way, as you provide information and a POV I don’t get elsewhere. (And you’re nice about it.)

  16. Brad Warthen

    Susan, thanks for the question. Actually, an endorsement is not quite the same as saying who I’d vote for, although there’s a very strong correlation. Actually, perhaps it would be a 100 percent correlation when it’s just me. When I led the editorial board, I had to take factors other than my own preferences into consideration.

    And Doug, I simply don’t follow your reasoning — unless you really, truly don’t understand what I’ve been saying all these years about parties. You know, about how meaningless they are. The very idea that I would endorse only Democrats because I once endorsed a Democrat, or the same with Republicans, is absurd and abhorrent to me.

    I suppose your lack of understanding of how I might endorse Lieberman and then (very, very reluctantly, and with truckloads of condemnation of being forced into such a choice) endorsing Bush in the general. Makes all the sense in the world to me. Lieberman and Bush were two very different people who had one thing in common: I preferred both of them to John Kerry as commander in chief.

    I suppose the way you look at things, that means I could never have anything good to say about Sen. Kerry. Not at all. I really admire the way he and Lindsey Graham have worked together on Energy/climate change legislation.

    You see, I don’t judge people according to where they fall on some simplistic, two-dimensional spectrum (left and right, or however you want to define the terms). Candidates are human beings, and are made up of many, many complex factors, on many levels. The calculation of who would be better (or less bad) for a given office is a very difficult process. Call it art or science, but it could never be something so automatic and unthinking as “which party does he belong to?” For me, party affiliation tells me nothing of value. If I factor it in at all, it’s as a negative, which must be compensated for by other, positive attributes.

    That Joe Lieberman was my kind of Democrat was if anything reinforced by his party’s rejection of him in the next senatorial election. Ditto with McCain — the way certain elements in his party (the orthodox elements of reaction) kept trying to shove him aside was a big plus. Similarly, the fact that the angriest partisans in the Democratic Party fought furiously to nominate Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama was a factor in his favor.

    Such factors are not alone deciding factors. Mark Sanford disdains his party and alienates it at every turn. But that’s not nearly enough “positive” to make up for his huge negatives.

  17. Doug Ross

    In hindsight, do you still feel comfortable with endorsing Tommy Moore simply because you didn’t like Sanford? Wasn’t that one case where you could have said, “Neither guy is right for South Carolina”?

    I’ll still go back to the fact that you endorsed McCain even though you had been talking about health care and energy policy being the #1 and #2 domestic issues for years. McCain’s views on both those issues were in direct opposition to yours. It would be like me rooting for the Gamecocks and donating money to Clemson.

    To me, if you are going to endorse someone, you should be able to at least be comfortable that the candidate supports a high percentage of the policies you support. If there isn’t one who does, don’t endorse anyone. It’s not two-dimensional, it’s sticking to principles. Hopefully, we vote for people who will enact policies that match our own beliefs not someone who we think is a nice guy or a war hero or great at compromise.

  18. bud

    Brad, I’m not sure I agree with everything Doug just said but he’s totally correct about one thing, you never seriously considered endorsing anyone in the general election but John McCain. Everyone who has been keeping up with your opinion of McCain knew this. Why deny it?

  19. bud

    It would be like me rooting for the Gamecocks and donating money to Clemson.
    -Doug

    Many a USC graduate has contributed to Clemson by way of tuition payments for their children (and visa versa).

  20. bud

    One more quick point. I think it is perfectly reasonable and honorable to NOT endorse anyone (or perhaps a third party candidate). Many papers do just that. In the Moore/Sanford race that should have been the only reasonable choice for Brad given his worldview.

  21. Brad Warthen

    bud, to answer your points:

    — I most assuredly DID seriously consider other candidates. We were very torn about the general election endorsement. (Y’all are completely ignoring the fact that I had always longed for the opportunity to endorse a Democrat in the presidential race, just to break the string so Democrats couldn’t say “The ALWAYS choose the Republican, but the Democratic Party never offered nominees acceptable to The State — until Obama. That made it tough not to choose him.) The fact that I liked McCain before the process started, and still preferred him at the end, doesn’t change that fact. I don’t know why y’all have so much trouble understanding that.
    — On your last point, and this is something that it really floors me that I can’t get across to you and Doug: In the general election, one of these guys IS going to be elected. It is a grossly irresponsible thing to do for a voter, or a newspaper, to refuse to choose between them. I’m not going to do the irresponsible thing.

    The issue for me NOW as a blogger is that I can’t decide whether I have that same responsibility. Maybe the responsibility is to do something else, I just haven’t decided what. But if I decide I have a DUTY to do something, get out of my way, because I’m going to do it.

    And Doug, here’s another thing that is simple and obvious to me, but I have a terrible time getting across to you:
    You ask, “do you still feel comfortable with endorsing Tommy Moore….” I’m going to ignore that gratuitous little insult that followed about “simply because you didn’t like Sanford,” and answer the first part:

    What on Earth ever gave you the idea that I was EVER comfortable, even for a moment, with having to make that choice? Yes, I know YOU think I didn’t had to, and obviously we’re never going to agree about that. But I have to ask you, Do you only do things you’re comfortable with? Because my life isn’t like that. I get out of my comfort zone all the time, and I think grown, honorable, intellectually honest people are obliged to do that.

    As Yossarian said to the chaplain in Catch-22, “I wouldn’t want to live without strong misgivings.”

  22. Brad Warthen

    By the way, I’m leaning at the moment against endorsements per se. I’ll obviously continue to tell you exactly what I think of candidates, but I’m leaning against the idea of doing a formal, “Ta-Da!”, here’s MY candidate kind of announcement.

    That seems more like something you do from the standpoint of one who uses the royal, editorial “we,” and seems increasingly presumptuous on the part of a blogger.

    At least, that’s what I’m thinking today. I might change tomorrow.

  23. Doug Ross

    By endorsing Tommy Moore, you allowed him to use that as a mechanism to drum up more support. If you didn’t like him, you shouldn’t have supported him.

    Many voters choose not to vote for one of the two parties or to not vote at all. That’s not being irresponsible. That’s sticking to one’s principles.

    Making no choice would have been a far more brave and uncomfortable thing to do than choosing the lesser of two evils. Choosing Obama over McCain would have been a brave choice as well. Choosing the best of the worst doesn’t take a whole lot of guts.

  24. bud

    My question for Burl, Kathryn, Karen, HP and the other regulars. In your opinion did Brad actually consider endorsing Barack Obama in the general election? I’ll go along with the concensus. But I never for one nanosecond thought Brad ever really considered Obama. If so the Palin selection would have settled the issue.

  25. Brad Warthen

    Doug, you’re ignoring the fact that Tommy was going to lose, no matter what we said. So who cares if we helped him — it wasn’t going to be enough to make the difference?

    And Doug, if you had sat in my seat a few times, you’d understand that choosing between two bad candidates is much, much harder than choosing between two you like. With two you like, it doesn’t matter that much, does it? Either way, you win. You’re talking about a matter of nuance. If you love both lobster and steak, what does it matter which one you order tonight?

    But if there are two candidates you don’t approve of, and one would be more disastrous than the other, you say so. And if you’re responsible, you try to do it as positively as you can, while being honest about your misgivings.

    It’s much, much harder to do.

    And doing nothing is never “brave and uncomfortable.” It’s easy.

  26. Brad Warthen

    … mind you, there are times when I have forced the board to choose rather than doing the easy thing, then regretted it later.

    I think, for instance, we would have been better off not expressing an opinion about the “gay marriage” amendment. We didn’t really care about it one way or the other, and it was a total loss either way: Whatever position we took would have unnecessarily ticked off one side or the other in the Kulturkampf, to no good purpose (because it wasn’t important to us, or, we believed, to South Carolina).

    The board was VERY reluctant to say anything, but I dragged it kicking and screaming through the process, rather than let us do the easy thing.

    But when it was over, I think we would have served our readers and the newspaper as an institution better by doing the easy thing, by doing nothing.

    But that’s a rare case, the exception that proves it’s dumb to be absolutist, to say you ALWAYS have to do a certain thing, no matter the circumstances. A thinking person should consider the circumstances.

  27. Brad Warthen

    bud and I just crossed paths. To him I say…

    … unless, of course, Brad is actually telling the TRUTH when he says that not once has he ever picked a presidential nominee on the basis of his running mate, and despite the fact that YOU don’t see how he couldn’t, he didn’t do so this time, either.

    But I just suppose the idea that Brad might actually mean the words he says is just beyond the realm of possibility, huh?

  28. bud

    Doug, you’re ignoring the fact that Tommy was going to lose, no matter what we said.
    -Brad

    Let’s just carry this line of reasoning to it’s logical conclusion. You’ve elected not to endorse third party candidates because they are not going to win. Therefore, if Tommy was going to lose, no matter what, that means that Sanford was going to be the winner, no matter what. Therefore, if you are only going to choose from among those candidates that actually have a chance to win then you should have endorsed Mark Sanford.

    Brad, I know Doug and I are being contrary here but seriously just sit back and read what you’ve been writing here. It is just not logical. Anyway I hope you change your mind and endorse. On local races it does have some value since its really difficult to find out information about the candidates. On the bigger races, especially POTUS, it’s probably pretty worthless given the huge amount of information from many sources. I really can’t see how a newspaper or blog endorsement would hold much sway.

  29. Kathryn Fenner

    “You see, I don’t judge people according to where they fall on some simplistic, two-dimensional spectrum (left and right, or however you want to define the terms). ”
    Actually you have frequently rejected columnists’ views simply because of where you perceive they fall on a 2D spectrum.

    @bud– I think Brad was torn between his Hawaiian roots and UnParty principles and his military upbringing and fear of the wrath of Jack Van Loan, McCain’s cellee.

  30. HP

    @bud – I sincerely answer your question thusly:

    I don’t know. I stopped following anyone other than Ron Paul’s endorsements after John McCain’s bizarre and contorted pick of a running mate in August, 2008.

    When John McCain snubbed Mitt Romney, the only being on the planet talented enough to simultaneously “make the boss look good” while doing all the work, I had a meltdown and left two-party politics altogether.

  31. David

    On your last point, and this is something that it really floors me that I can’t get across to you and Doug: In the general election, one of these guys IS going to be elected. It is a grossly irresponsible thing to do for a voter, or a newspaper, to refuse to choose between them. I’m not going to do the irresponsible thing.

    Brad, I think your position is reasonable. But from my prospective as a voter — I can’t say much about being one who endorses candidates — there sometimes are good reasons to use my vote other than as a choice between the top two. Perhaps if there was a major, major issue that both sides refused to tackle (*cough* the national debt, *cough*), then that would be a good reason in my eyes not to pick between the righty and the lefty. Also I might feel it worth the increased risk of having the greater of the two evils elected by not voting for either because I thought that casting my vote for a 3rd choice loser or not voting at all would send a message to the parties that their ways are unacceptable in hopes that the next election cycle would produce two not so “evil” candidates.

    But then again, I think choosing between two candidates you don’t like because one is going to win is just fine too.

    And to throw my two cents at your original question, I would like to see bradwarthen.com endorse, especially in local elections.

  32. Brad Warthen

    Thanks for seeing what I’m saying, David.

    And yes, if a third-party (or no-party) candidate was the person you absolutely thought was better than the other two, that’s who you should vote for. And maybe that’s what Doug is driving at sometimes.

    But I’ve never found myself in a situation (on that national level, which is sort of the context in which this came up) in which I preferred a third candidate, however little I thought of the two main party nominees. George Wallace in 1968? No. John Anderson in 1980? No. (I was a Jimmy Carter man.) Ross Perot in 1992 (“Now here’s the thing, see?…”)? No. Ralph Nader in 2000? Nope.

    The things that I tend not to like about either of the major party nominees in the presidential election (except in 2008, which was unique) are usually the very things that caused their parties to nominate them. But then in the general, they move toward the middle, where I am. That means that as sour as I might be on them, I’ll usually still prefer either of them to the “alternative” candidates, who tend to be really “out there.”

    Of course, my position on health care is considered “out there,” but if I were to vote on the basis of that — as Doug suggests I do — I’d have to support Dennis Kucinich, a guy with whom I disagree about everything else.

    Oh, and by the way, in presidential elections, I’m not looking mainly at domestic issues, even big, important domestic issues such as our health care mess. I’m looking for a commander in chief and chief diplomat, the person who deal with the rest of the world for us. That’s top of mind all the way. That’s why such things as the Colombian free trade agreement, which the Democrats who were mad over my McCain endorsement just freaked OUT over because they thought it was so esoteric, is so important to me. I saw McCain’s correct position on that, and Obama’s very wrong position on it, as a sort of microcosm of how they’d approach foreign relations. And Obama’s position really, really worried me.

    Similarly, if I were primarily thinking domestic issues with regard to the presidency, we would have endorsed John Kerry in 2004. He towered over Bush on domestic issues. (And we said so in the endorsement.) But we didn’t, because I don’t think that way.

  33. bud

    Brad seems to be taunting me by bringing up the 2004 POTUS endorsement. I’ll just pass this time and ignore it.

    I admit that I do take local endorsements somewhat seriously. I probably should dig into the particulars of the candidates more than I do but given the difficulty that poses it seems easier just to read the endorsement and vote based on what is said. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’d vote for the person endorsed. If, for example, The State endorsed a candidate who favored the Green Diamond fiasco because it would be good for the local economy that would be sufficient information for me to oppose that candidate.

  34. Brad Warthen

    Aiieeeee….!

    That was to respond to Doug.

    Now, to bud:

    Here we’re on the same page — local endorsements are the ones that matter. The only purpose of the presidential ones is that they provide a benchmark for the reader. The readers is swamped with information about those candidates and comes to a newspaper’s endorsement having made up his mind… usually. This provides a framework for deciding whether to trust the paper on the local endorsements — the races about which the paper is the reader’s primary (and perhaps only) source of information.

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