December 26, 2007

Another "Anti-Endorsement" of Mitt... This Time By a McCainiac Paper

Hatched by Dafydd

Is this becoming a disgusting, new trend?

The Manchester Union Leader, generally considered a fairly conservative newspaper which has been openly campaigning for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) since the mating season began, endorsed him in the ordinary way on December 2nd:

On Jan. 8, New Hampshire Republicans will make one of the most important choices for their party and nation in the history of our presidential primary. Their choice ought to be John McCain.

We don't agree with him on every issue. We disagree with him strongly on campaign finance reform. What is most compelling about McCain, however, is that his record, his character, and his courage show him to be the most trustworthy, competent, and conservative of all those seeking the nomination. Simply put, McCain can be trusted to make informed decisions based on the best interests of his country, come hell or high water.

The Union Leader is an odd duck. Although McCain shocked the George W. Bush campaign by winning the New Hampshire primary in 2000, McCain did so without the help of the newspaper, which did not endorse him. Nor did they endorse Bush, either: In 2000, the Union Leader endorsed the powerhouse candidate Steve Forbes, who went on to win a solid 13% of the vote and send two whole New Hampshire delegates to the convention, out of 17. (Bush already had a solid majority before the convention, of course.)

Then again, the Union Leader hasn't a particularly good track record for picking the eventual nominee. Here are all their GOP endorsements over the past three decades:

  • 2000: Steve Forbes (while attacking John McCain as the most liberal Republican in the race); Bush was nominated.
  • 1996: Pat Buchanan; Bob Dole was nominated.
  • 1992: Pat Buchanan; George H.W. Bush was nominated.
  • 1988: Pete DuPont; George H.W. Bush was nominated.
  • 1984: Ronald Reagan -- but this doesn't really count, since he had no credible GOP opposition;
  • 1980: Ronald Reagan -- who actually won the nomination, the only time in the last thirty years that the Union Leader "hit" in a contested GOP primary;
  • 1976: Ronald Reagan; sitting president Gerald R. Ford was nominated.

I can understand them endorsing candidates that did not go on to win the nomination, even if they did win New Hampshire. And I can even understand doing a 180 on a particular candidate (would that, perhaps, be considered a "flip flop" by the Union Leader?) Candidates change, the field changes, and the editors can simply change their minds (or change their editors).

But the paper was not content with the perfect credible and acceptable endorsement of McCain early this month. After watching the very liberal Concord Monitor make an "anti-endorsement" of Mitt Romney, the Union Leader decided to jump on the slimewagon today and do the same:

In this primary, the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes. That is why Granite Staters who have listened attentively are now returning to John McCain. They might not agree with McCain on everything, as we don't, but like us, they judge him to be a man of integrity and conviction, a man who won't sell them out, who won't break his promises, and who won't lie to get elected.

Voters can see that John McCain is trustworthy. Mitt Romney has spent a year trying to convince Granite Staters that he is as well. It looks like they aren't buying it. And for good reason.

I wonder what the paper will do if Romney ends up being the nominee... write an editorial urging voters to elect Hillary Clinton?

But after slamming Romney for not being "trustworthy" and implying that he would "lie to get elected," the Union Leader levels an outrageous and "demonstrably false" charge against him:

Last week Romney was reduced to debating what the meaning of "saw" is. It was only the latest in a string of demonstrably false claims -- he'd been a hunter "pretty much" all his life, he'd had the NRA's endorsement, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. -- that call into question the veracity of his justifications for switching sides on immigration, abortion, taxes and his affection for Ronald Reagan.

I don't think even liberal Democrats have accused Romney of saying that he, himself marched with Martin Luther King.

Romney said that he saw his father, Michigan Gov. George Romney, march with King. Romney might have meant that he was aware his father did; and some have questioned whether George Romney ever personally marched with King, though everyone agrees that George Romney was a civil-rights leader and led his own marches supporting King and King's cause.

So does this minor, little false accusation -- part of the paper's campaign to get John McCain nominated for president -- "call into question the veracity of" the Manchester Union Leader's editorial attack on Mitt Romney? I think it certainly calls into question the paper's claim to dispassionate analysis, as opposed to over-the-top emotional bleating.

Alas, the "anti-endorsement" -- where a newspaper, radio station, or television station singles out one despised candidate and urges, "For the love of God, anybody but him!" -- appears to be the vile, new fashion in American electoral politics.

I hope it doesn't work. I hope that the Union Leader is slapped down (as they often are), and Mitt Romney wins the primary and the nomination. If for no other reason, I wouldn't want to think that such a smarmy and false attack on a candidate by a partisan newspaper was instrumental in killing that candidate's campaign. Such power would create a craven new world of media hegemony.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 26, 2007, at the time of 3:20 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Baggi


I think they are referring to a supposed interview Romney gave back in 1978. According to the Boston Globe (I think), Romney said in 1978 that he and his father marched with Martin Luther King.

Still dumb, I know, but they technically aren't lying.

The above hissed in response by: Baggi [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2007 7:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr

Okay, why are you acting as "press watchdog" in this? It just doesn't make sense. The press has always had their say about who I should and shouldn't vote for. Why are you pretending it's a new and scandalous thing? Especially after your series of anti-Huckabee articles, some of them on very flimsy grounds, I must add (which implies correctly that some of your anti-Huckabee articles were NOT on flimsy grounds at all).

The above hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2007 8:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Okay, why are you acting as "press watchdog" in this?

Somebody gotta do it.

Especially after your series of anti-Huckabee articles, some of them on very flimsy grounds, I must add (which implies correctly that some of your anti-Huckabee articles were NOT on flimsy grounds at all).

I'm just an individual guy; I don't claim to have done original research or interviewed the principals or anything. I cite my sources up front... so I don't have the cache that a newspaper has, or the gravitas.

Nobody takes Big Lizards as seriously as most people take the Manchester Union Leader; they recognize this post as yet another opinion by yet another (more or less) unknown blogger.

We're no more credible than your most opinionated golfing buddy. (I hope we're no less credible, either!) So if we're completely wrong, it causes far less damage to the body politic than if the newspapers are wrong.

But even so, we haven't published a post saying, "For God's sake, don't vote for Mike Huckabee!" In that sense, we at BL are far more responsible than either the Union Leader or the Concord Monitor.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2007 11:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: Pam

Dafydd, as soon as you can let us hear your thoughts on Pakistan and what Bhutto's death means to the over all GWOT. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I hopw you have a Peaceful and Blessed New Year.

Thanks for your insight; I really love the blog and am glad I found you this year.


The above hissed in response by: Pam [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2007 8:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 28, 2007 4:35 PM

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