January 22, 2020

NYT Endorsements

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

On Sunday, the New York Times editorial board endorsed both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic presidential nomination. New York Times

On Monday, Joe Biden tweeted a now viral video from the elevator ride before his interview with the editorial board in which Jacquelyn, a black female security guard, took a selfie with him and expressed support for his candidacy. Twitter

Both sides are critical of the decision not to pick a single candidate:

“Maybe someone should explain to the editors that endorsing multiple candidates for the same race isn’t actually an endorsement at all… Most ironically, the paper set up their standard as the best chance to beat Trump, and then chose two candidates who can’t even come within ten points of winning the primaries. Warren’s been declining into the second tier for the last three months, and Klobuchar never got a bump out of it in the first place — which means they’re not even Democrats’ choices to represent either of the two directions for the party.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“While nearly everyone else in the world of Democratic politics seems to have made up their mind, the board needs more time to choose between a more radical approach to fixing America’s many ills (represented by Warren) and a more conventional one (Klobuchar). The Times editorial page has taken its reputation for careful, sober decision-making to the point of paralysis—calling into question all the ostensible reasons for opening up the endorsement process in the first place… In the end, we learned very little about the board’s beliefs, about politics, or journalism, other than that it is able to recognize the demands of the moment but doesn’t quite have the courage to meet them.”
Alex Shephard, New Republic

Both sides also expect Biden to benefit from the viral elevator video:

“We live in a visual and social (media) world. That 22-second clip of Biden -- the thrill of meeting him the woman clearly has, his demeanor and kindness -- is the sort of thing that will be shared time and time again by people who see it as a true moment of humanity, a window into what this public figure is really like. Those images are more powerful -- as a persuasion tool -- than any words the Times wrote about its endorsement(s) of Klobuchar and Warren. To the extent then that the Times endorsement process has an actual effect on real votes, I'd bet it will be the Biden moment that is remembered by voters. In that then, Biden may have won by losing (the Times endorsement at least).”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

“A deputy editor explained that the news division gathers facts but that the editorial board is composed of people who take those facts and ‘describe the world as it should be’…  [And yet] the editorial board couldn’t manage to tell you which Democrat should be the party’s nominee. At the end of their rose ceremony, they cut the flower in half…

“The editorial board had talked about how, though they were reassured by Joe Biden’s apparent vigor and health, they found that the case for him was essentially that he’s ‘a warm body’ that can beat Trump. But the camera people caught a glimpse of Joe Biden on the elevator with a black woman who works as [a] security guard in the building. She smiled at Joe and said she loves him, adding, ‘He’s awesome.’ It was the most genuine and least calculated moment of the show. The Times can pronounce on how the world ought to be. But that security guard showed the stubborn way in which the world remains as it is.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of the pro-life movement’s embrace of Trump and opposed to further restrictions on abortion.

“The indecisiveness might have felt less grating if the Times hadn’t put so much effort into turning the endorsement into a spectacle in its own right… As much as the rollout of the Very Special Episode has been about the Democratic primary, it has also very much been about the New York Times and The Role of the New York Times in the Democratic primary. And in this state of hyper-self-awareness and inflated ego, the Times has done what the Times does best: choke. Not unlike a few years ago when the Times’ endorsement of Andrew Cuomo for governor consisted almost exclusively of reasons not to vote for him, the paper’s editorial board has decided that, in lieu of any sort of clear-eyed, moral direction, it will offer readers throat clearing, ambivalence, and a vague gesture at who might possibly be OK.”
Ashley Feinberg, Slate

Yet “the Times damns Sanders in the crudest terms, concluding, ‘Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.’ Amazingly, the paper of record does not recognize the contradiction in arguing that Sanders is associated with ‘now mainstream’ ideas that ‘may attract voters who helped elect Mr. Trump in 2016,’ while at the same time dismissing him as too ‘divisive’… If they got out of New York a bit more, they would also recognize that what they imagine to be radical is realistic—and necessary. That’s not where the Times is at, however; indeed, the board’s longing for ‘a single, powerful moderate voice’ is palpable in the editorial.”
John Nichols, The Nation

“As much as the editorial board calls for unity, their definition of the term is not entirely coherent… While Sanders may not have the bipartisan legislative record or rhetoric of unity that seems to appeal most to the editorial board, he has built a multiracial coalition of working class voters. While Klobuchar and Warren may boast unity across Congressional aisles, Sanders outperforms other Democrats among Independent voters in a head-to-head against Trump and in Independent donor contributions…

“[Their definition of ‘unity’] calls into question what the Times means by ‘divisive.’ The policies Sanders has mainstreamed through his candidacy are broadly popular—Medicare for All, in particular. If Sanders’ ‘divisiveness’ is just shorthand for dissent against a violent status quo, how is that a problem? It’s hard, then, not to step back and take a more cynical view of the board’s rationale: The rhetoric of democracy and unity is more about appearances than actual equality and justice for millions of people.”
Malaika Jabali, New Republic

“I’m quite sure the White House knew that this plan would be immediately dismissed by the Palestinians. So why bother? There are a couple of reasons. First, Trump said he was going to come up with a peace plan and gave the task to his son-in-law; if nothing else, he can say that he followed through. Second, by coming up with something so incredibly skewed toward the interests of Israel, he can demonstrate to domestic constituencies — particularly evangelical Christians, many of whom are devoted to a right-wing vision of Israel’s future in which Palestinian rights are ignored — that he continues to be on their side… And finally, the inevitable rejection of the plan by the Palestinians can be used as an excuse to continue denying them self-determination. ‘See, we offered you a peace plan,’ Trump and Netanyahu will say, ‘and you didn’t want it! It’s clear you aren’t ready for self-determination.’ And nothing will change.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“If we’re really lucky, this might be the occasion for some significant reform. The absolute minimum that should be done is for Iowa to switch from a caucus to a primary… What would be even better is if we finally took the opportunity to end Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status… We have to release ourselves from the tyranny of this state and its stubborn voters. Let me speak for those of us in the other 49: We’re pretty sick and tired of you Iowans telling us how it’s so important that you have this privilege for all eternity because you ‘take it so seriously.’ If you took it seriously, you wouldn’t use this insane voting process. And maybe more than 16 percent of you would actually turn out to vote… No one state deserves the status Iowa took for itself, and it has shown it can’t manage it. The country needs to take control of the election out of Iowa’s hands.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right applauds Trump’s speech and argues that his Iran strategy has been successful.

From the Right

“The editorial board's contempt for Trump is expected. But its outright dismissal of the dominant front-runner, Biden, and leftist leader, Bernie Sanders, as well as its latent contempt for Buttigieg, is eerily foreboding for the state of the media's relationship with the Democratic Party. They chose two of the candidates, both unfavorable with the nonwhite members of the electorate, overlooking the three candidates most overwhelmingly likely to become the nominee… In a way, its decision was almost a concession that legacy media won't decide the primary. Why pretend that they can?”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“After grouping the candidates into those who want to return to the status quo ante Trumpus (Biden, Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Klobuchar, and—weirdly—Yang) and those who want a revolution (Sanders and Warren), the Board decides to abdicate its responsibility and instead choose an inferior example of each… If the Board wanted a utopian vision, Bernie was clearly their guy. In his interviews at the NYT headquarters, he came off as populist to the core, promising to be an ‘organizer-in-chief’ who would force Mitch McConnell to play ball or get him kicked out of office by mobilizing a groundswell of opposition among Kentucky voters. Maybe not the most realistic plan, but Warren didn’t handle the question of how she would get things done any better…

“In Klobuchar, they found their perfect faux-moderate, rejecting the obvious choice: Joe Biden. If the Board’s intention was to endorse a moderate to balance out Warren, they could have hardly done better than Biden, who seems to be running on a platform that consists entirely of nostalgia for the relative normalcy of the Obama administration. Instead the Board rejected him in favor of Klobuchar because his agenda ‘tinkers at the edges of issues like health care and climate’ and ‘will not get America where it needs to go as a society.’ In other words, the Board committed to endorsing a moderate and then rejected the most moderate of the moderates for being too moderate.”
Grayson Quay, The American Conservative

Many note that “Klobuchar is certainly far more moderate than Warren, but if nominated, Klobuchar would still be the most radical candidate nominated by a major party in years, despite her claim to the moderate lane in the Democratic primary. Both support a $15 federal minimum wage, far fewer restrictions on abortion, a federal study of reparations for slavery, and the abolishment of the constitutionally-created Electoral College. These stances alone are enough to cast both senators as left-wing progressives.”
Tristan Justice, The Federalist

“Did Bill Taylor deliver the smoking-gun testimony House Democrats need to justify their drive for impeachment? Or did GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe ‘destroy’ the former Ukraine charges d’affaires in two minutes flat, as Nunes claimed last night?… The only way to really know what happened is to see the transcripts, and the serial leaks out of the SCIF make Schiff’s security arguments a bad joke… No one should trust any of these reports until we see the transcripts. In fact, no one should put any confidence in this process until it gets conducted openly, honestly, and fairly. House Republicans might have been conducting a stunt this morning, but the purpose of that stunt is spot-on. The House Democrats’ star-chamber approach is an affront to justice and due process, and their conduct in using selective leaks to goose public opinion from these proceedings is nothing short of despicable.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

It’s worth noting that “conservative ideas were much more popular when not associated with the Republican party. In Washington State, voters narrowly rejected bringing affirmative action back to state contracting and university admissions…

“In Seattle, the self-proclaimed socialist city-council member appears to have lost her seat to a pro-business challenger. In Colorado, voters gave fiscal conservatives a big win by rejecting letting the state keep any tax revenues above the state spending cap, money that the state Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights currently guarantees as refunds to taxpayers. In Sussex County, N.J., voters approved, by a 2-to-1 margin, a referendum directing the local freeholder board to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Washington, Colorado, New Jersey — notice these are places where Republican candidates have had no luck lately.)”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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