Monday, October 29, 2012

The art and mystery of endorsement

Still a little bemused about The Register's Sunday endorsement of Mitt Romney, which broke a string of progressive presidential endorsements that stretched back to 1972 --- the last time the newspaper Iowa used to kind of depend upon endorsed a Republican, Richard Nixon. Oops.

Reading around, it seems to me that John Deeth probably has the clearest understanding of the reasons for the endorsement --- the president's botched "off the record" interview last week with publisher Laura Hollingsworth and editor Rick Green. That offended the delicate sensibilities of The Register's editorial board which, after "vigorous" debate, decided to endorse the challenger. In other words, "we'll show you what happens when you mess with us."

Some have suggested that The Register's corporate master, Gannett, ordered the endorsement, which seems unlikely. Gannett certainly is struggling in Des Moines and The Register is a mere shadow of its former self in part because of that. But The Iowa City Press-Citizen, Gannett's other Iowa property, endorsed Obama --- although it does operate in a city where tar and feathers could have resulted from anything else.

The oddest thing about The Register's endorsement, which reaffirms the editorial board's committment to all other progressive causes, was its illogic. The suggestion that Romney would do a better job with the economy flies in the face of the fact that  the Republican has carefully avoided outlining an economic plan and remained focused on not being Barack Obama.  And the suggestion that Romney will reach "across the aisle" to break partisan gridlock is absurd, something both Republicans and Democrats know.

In the end, about all The Register endorsement accomplished was to undermine its remaining strength among progressives, who have tended to forgive an increasingly weak news product because of a consistently strong liberal editorial voice. Republicans, outside the few remaining classic conservatives from the party's former base, have loved to hate the flagship of Iowa newspapering for years --- and that's unlikely to change.


Speaking of politics, want to know to which campaign your neighbor has been contributing? Here's the place to find out. Just type in the last name of a candidate and his or her disclosure forms appear. I'm actually more interested in PAC than individual donations, but there's lots of fun to be had here.


Martin Buck said...

The mystery is why it has taken so long for the DMR to see clearly.


Frank D. Myers said...

Sticks and stones, sticks and stones ....

Ken said...

I'm still confused. How does one have a "botched off-the-record interview," particularly at this level and at this stage of the campaign? Was it clear at the start of the interview that it was off-the-record? If so, what does the Register have to complain about? If it WASN'T clear, the whole incident reflects rather poorly on both the Register AND the Obama campaign.