Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sunday Endorsement Watch

Three major newspapers are among those endorsing John Kerry today:

Washington Post

Des Moines Register

Orlando Sentinel

Editorial board endorsements don't necessarily mean much, in and of themselves, and certainly aren't written to change the mind of anyone who's already locked into a particular candidate. That's not the intent of endorsements. The intent is to articulate a compelling reason for favoring one candidate over another -- and therefore, endorsements are targeted primarily toward the shrinking cadre of "undecideds".

The Washington Post endorsement fails that test, in my opinion. It is a pained rejection of George Bush rather than an unqualified endorsement of Senator Kerry:

...We do not view a vote for Mr. Kerry as a vote without risks. But the risks on the other side are well known, and the strengths Mr. Kerry brings are considerable. He pledges both to fight in Iraq and to reach out to allies; to hunt down terrorists, and to engage without arrogance the Islamic world. These are the right goals, and we think Mr. Kerry is the better bet to achieve them.
In other words, the Washington Post is spinning the roulette wheel, and recommending their readers put their chips on red rather than black and hoping that double zero doesn't come up. This is easily the worst of the Kerry endorsements I've read to date.

Contrast the WaPo endorsement with that of the Des Moines Register:

...It's time to see Kerry as the person he is, not as the caricature created in the president's campaign ads.

Kerry won the presidential debates because the man Americans saw on live television differed from the caricature. Americans saw a thoughtful, experienced, exceptionally well-informed candidate who cares deeply about his country and its people.

...It is the nature of the man to listen and to respect others. He does not tend toward vindictiveness or in-your-face triumphalism. There is a dignity about him. We have watched him from early in the Iowa caucus campaign through a grueling general-election campaign in a battleground state. We have seen Kerry grow and develop in presidential qualities to the point we're confident in recommending him as a person of common sense and decency - a leader who has what it takes to bring Americans back together.
The editorial board of the Register lays out what I described as necessary - a compelling case for the candidate of their choice. Their consideration is clearly not one of picking "the lesser of two evils".

The Orlando Sentinel endorsement of John Kerry is an odd duck. It starts out with an absolutely scathing slapdown of George Bush, and is a thing of beauty:

Four years ago, the Orlando Sentinel endorsed Republican George W. Bush for president based on our trust in him to unite America. We expected him to forge bipartisan solutions to problems while keeping this nation secure and fiscally sound.

This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations. We turn now to his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, with the belief that he is more likely to meet the hopes we once held for Mr. Bush.

Our choice was not dictated by partisanship...Indeed, it has been 40 years since the Sentinel endorsed a Democrat -- Lyndon Johnson -- for president.

...Mr. Bush has abandoned the core values we thought we shared with him -- keeping the nation strong while ensuring that its government is limited, accountable and fiscally responsible.
The Sentinel then ticks off eight bullet point reasons why John Kerry is clearly the most qualified candidate to hold the highest office - their endorsement of him is strong and grounded in fact. It's also, in no uncertain terms, an apology for their previous endorsement of George Bush in 2000. You can be sure that Jeb Bush is spitting up his coffee this morning.


Out of all the endorsements that both Kerry and Bush will receive today, the one given by the Des Moines Register is by far and away the most important. For that matter, it might be the most important endorsement of the entire 2004 election cycle.

The Register carries a disproportionately huge influence in the swing state of Iowa -- maybe more so than any other single media outlet in any other state in the union. No media outlet in Iowa, print or broadcast, can begin to match the sheer clout of the Register in both reach and credibility. For that reason alone, I have no doubt that the editorial board of the Register recognized their potential impact on the upcoming election, and their deliberative endorsement of John Kerry is written as an acknowledgement of that awesome responsibility.

So, it's a good start to what I hope will be a great Sunday of ringing endorsements for John Kerry from small, medium, and large newspapers across the country.

Feel free to post your own endorsement sightings in the comments!

Update, 12:30PM: Jude at Iddybud has a comprehensive list of Kerry endorsements today, complete with linkage. Nice work, Jude!!