Reading the mass of newspaper endorsement editorials in this season you get a sense of mass-production in a lot of cases. The candidates come in for interviews, are evaluated by certain criteria – broader or narrower depending on the paper – and emerge with one chosen over the other, sometimes with a strong recommend and some as a closer call. The newspapers in this region that do endorse, we should note, mostly take care to endorse both Ds and Rs, which sometimes looks like a determined attempt to look impartial.
Not many such editorials are really lengthy and detailed in their evaluation, especially in cases where the choice is clear-cut. Because there are so many endorsements, papers couldn’t d that in many cases as a practical matter.
But anyone interested in regional politics or endorsement editorials ought to take a look at today’s in the Eugene Register-Guard, which makes its call in the suddenly heated 4th U.S. House district race between long-time incumbent Peter DeFazio and Republican challenger Art Robinson. It’s the finest endorsement editorial we’ve seen in the Northwest this year.
It quickly makes an unusual admission: Robinson didn’t even respond to a request for a meeting with the largest newspaper in the district where he’s running, and the paper said that, he “may have judged such a meeting to be a waste of his time, and maybe he’s right.”
What follows is an extended look at Robinson’s background, drawn from publications and public record and most of it in language Robinson probably wouldn’t dispute, through his years in scientific research and bitter fights with other scientists, to his contention that students in public schools are systemically abused and “mentally handicapped.” From there: “Robinson has backed away from such statements during the campaign, perhaps realizing that they imply a belief that a vast majority of his would-be constituents are unqualified for citizenship. As a candidate, Robinson represents the new style of conservatism that departs from a defense of American institutions, and instead demands that they be dismantled or abolished. Many of the federal government’s programs, he believes, including Social Security, Medicare and environmental regulations, bring a socialist intrusion on personal and corporate freedom.”
The editorial evokes with crystalline clarity who Robinson is, and also who DeFazio is, and isn’t: “… attempts to depict DeFazio as a drum major in the Obama administration’s march toward socialism are distortions. The word “socialism” is used with gross imprecision, but if it is to be employed, DeFazio would emerge as a consistent enemy of the only type of socialism practiced widely in the United States — lemon socialism, the public takeover of debts and other obligations of failing enterprises with no corresponding public claim on their profits.”
It concludes with a roundhouse endorsement for DeFazio. The editorial is a model of powerful and informed endorsement.
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