Sunday, October 19, 2008

An albatross with lipstick?

Newspaper endorsements can be helpful to voters when it comes to local races. A newspaper editorial board can sit down and interview the candidates and get a better insight into their policies and abilities than what might come across in the candidates' advertising. But at the risk of being labeled a heretic by my newspaper brethren, there are few things I find more useless than an endorsement in the presidential race. (The Observer-Reporter, by the way, endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday.) After two years of campaigning by Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain, and a never-ending stream of ads that are next to impossible to ignore, anyone who needs a newspaper to tell them which candidate to support should really just stay home on Election Day. That being said, there's one constant I've been seeing in newspaper endorsements picking Obama over McCain: It's McCain's running mate and her fitness for office. From the Kansas City Star: "Despite his age and previous health problems, McCain chose a vice presidential candidate who is so clearly unqualified for high office that the thought of her stepping into the presidency is frightening." From the Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune: "Out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him from the presidency." From the Philadelphia Inquirer: "More troubling was McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. This blatant overture to women voters and evangelical Christians who share her views on abortion backfired when Palin in interviews proved she is not prepared to be a heartbeat away from the presidency." You can make the argument that these are left-leaning newspapers that are looking for reasons to not endorse McCain, but their opinions are increasingly shared by voters. A late-September NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 49 percent of the respondents found Palin unqualified to be president, with 40 percent saying she is qualified. By early October, a Washington Post-ABC poll found 60 percent who believe Palin does not have enough experience to lead. Certainly, McCain has been hurt by the economic crisis. Imagine how much better he would look if his running mate were Mitt Romney, a person who also has the "values" that appeal to evangelical voters (though they might be a bit put off by his Mormon faith) and, more importantly, a strong business and economic background. But the questions about Palin's abilities are resonating with voters, including the independents and undecideds whom McCain needs to reach. If McCain wins the election next month, it's all water under the bridge. But if he loses, my guess is he'll always look back to his vice presidential choice as the decision that cost him the White House.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newspaper endorsements are a holdover from Citizen Kane days:

Mrs. Kane: "People will think ..."

Charles Foster Kane: "... what I tell them to think."

No endorsement by a newspaper, magazine, TV journalist, political analyst, religious leader, former Secretary of State or tavern keeper will help me make up my mind who to vote for. If I can't figure that out on my own, I don't deserve to vote.

October 19, 2008 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

You're right about that. What amazes me is that after two years, when it's absolutely clear what both candidates believe in, and their proposals for the country are so diametrically opposed, there are still people out there who say, "I'm not sure who I'm going to vote for." You could understand if they wanted to wait until after the running mates were picked, or until they viewed the debates. But now??? By the way, "Citizen Kane," what a great movie.

October 19, 2008 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Brant... CK always is at the top of the "Best X number of movies ever" list... I tried to watch it once... It did nothing for me. I will give it another go at some point, but honestly, what's the "there" there?


October 19, 2008 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

It was really a transformational work in the history of movies, and it's especially evident when you put it in the context of other movies that were coming out in that era. I've never liked those lists of the "best" movies or albums, etc., but CK is on my list of favorites. Many people, however, side with you. Like everything else, a matter of personal taste.

October 19, 2008 at 7:42 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Right... I understand that from a technical point of view, Welles did things that have become a fixture in film making... but from a "story" point of view, it didn't hook me... It's like a Model T... sure, it was a big deal back in the day, but it doesn't hold a candle to modern cars... I guess that's the cue for car enthusiasts to tout the miracle that was the tin lizzie, but you know what I mean...


October 19, 2008 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I kind of liked Kane's transition from idealistic young newspaperman to old bastard. Some might say I'm following the same path. ;) And if I keep eating like I have been, I'll be wearing those Orson Welles shirts crafted from schooner sails.

October 19, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Brant most people do not like to think for themselves that's why they look to television, magazines and newspapers to tell them whats what. I have to agree that if that is the case then they don't need to vote anyway. What they need to do is pull there heads out of you know where and start making decisions for themselves.

October 20, 2008 at 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but if people start thinking for themselves, they'll have to be held accountable for their own actions. We don't like that.

October 20, 2008 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I'm with you ellipses...I just don't get Citizen Kane. I've watched it twice. Snoozefest.

Steelerfan and the last anon poster perfectly summed up what is wrong with the bulk of the American voting public: a lack of desire to think and decide for themselves and an almost abhorrent fear of accountability for their decisions.

"Casablanca," now that's a great movie.

October 21, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I agree with you, Pri, on "Casablanca." One supposedly great movie that I've never gotten is "Gone With the Wind." I've never been able to make it through the whole thing. I've seen all of it, in bits and pieces, and I just don't get it. But I'd take it any day over the period pieces ("Jane Eyre," "Pride and Prejudice") that the missus absolutely loves.

October 21, 2008 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Awe brant! I can't get enough of the "manly" period pieces... Braveheart, Patriot, Braveheart, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Braveheart, First Knight... and, uh... braveheart!


October 21, 2008 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

Why is Palin considered an problem when every time Joe Biden opens his mouth, he sticks his foot in it.
Over the weekend, he said not once, but twice that if elected, Obama would face an international crisis in the first six months like John Kennedy did with the Cuban missile crisis. Way to bring up your running mates' lack of experience. Besides, I thought the world loved Obama?
But hey, he's the smartest guy in the room. Just don't ask him how many letters are in the word Jobs.

October 21, 2008 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Dale... With the exit of George Bush, I imagine both obama and mccain will be "tested"... the world doesn't know how to tread with the US lately... you either get talked to (N. Korea) or you get Iraq'd :-)


October 21, 2008 at 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like "Casablaca," you must not be a romantic. "GWTW," well, I can pass on that one. I took my then-girlfriend to see it in the 19070s at the old Warner theater and, halfway through, she asked: "I don't want to seem dumb, but which side is Blue & which is Grey?" About year later, she married a Johhny Reb.

October 23, 2008 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I think you dodged a bullet there.

October 23, 2008 at 11:50 AM  

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