Just Above Sunset
October 17, 2004 - Endorsements

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Whilst the editor of Just Above Sunset was back at work – forty or more hours a week managing a small systems department at a large corporation – Rick the News Guy in Atlanta pointed out the odd endorsement so far in the campaign – Bush's hometown Crawford, Texas newspaper has endorsed John Kerry.  That would be the Lone Star Iconoclast – a great name.  In the last presidential campaign they endorsed George Bush.


You will find that here - and Rick comments -


I got this from my sister.  You may already have heard about it - Bush's hometown Crawford newspaper endorses Kerry, I think in the September 28th issue. Also, I included a note the publisher wrote about the aftermath of the endorsement, including canceled ads and subscriptions, but also physical threats - something, he says, he got little or none of from Republicans when the paper endorsed Carter and Clinton for their first terms, nor from Democrats when the paper endorsed Reagan, or even when they backed George W. Bush four years ago.


Pass it on, if you find it interesting. I think the endorsement is surprisingly well written for a small town rag.


Also, a bonus: When I first went to the page (it might not still be there), there was an ad that caught my eye, which I've attached.


The advertisement – shown here – refers back to a previous item in Just Above Sunset where Rick, and Ric in Paris (of MetropoleParis) discuss the world “liberal” and Elvis, and Jesus.  See August 8, 2004: Rehabilitating the word LIBERAL - and Elvis?  



Be that as it may, the Crawford editorial is interesting.  The whole thing is at the link above, but key excerpts?


Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:


         Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.

         Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans' benefits and military pay.

         Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.

         Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.

         Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.

         Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and

         Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.


These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office.


The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda.


Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs.


It seems the editorial board is about the efforts to disable the Social Security system, the crappy economy, what they see as “a dangerous shift away from the basic freedoms established by our founding fathers,” and the ongoing mistakes regarding terrorism and Iraq.  And they detail it all.


And there is this:


In those dark hours after the World Trade Center attacks, Americans rallied together with a new sense of patriotism. We were ready to follow Bush's lead through any travail.


He let us down.


When he finally emerged from his hide-outs on remote military bases well after the first crucial hours following the attack, he gave sound-bytes instead of solutions.


He did not trust us to be ready to sacrifice, build up our public and private security infrastructure, or cut down on our energy use to put economic pressure on the enemy in all the nations where he hides. He merely told us to shop, spend, and pretend nothing was wrong.


Rather than using the billions of dollars expended on the invasion of Iraq to shore up our boundaries and go after Osama bin Laden and the Saudi Arabian terrorists, the funds were used to initiate a war with what Bush called a more immediate menace, Saddam Hussein, in oil-rich Iraq. After all, Bush said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction trained on America. We believed him, just as we believed it when he reported that Iraq was the heart of terrorism. We trusted him.


The Iconoclast, the President's hometown newspaper, took Bush on his word and editorialized in favor of the invasion. The newspaper's publisher promoted Bush and the invasion of Iraq to Londoners in a BBC interview during the time that the administration was wooing the support of Prime Minister Tony Blair.


Again, he let us down.


And it goes on with even more issues, and calls Kerry's four-point plan for Iraq “realistic, wise, strong, and correct.”   You get the idea.


And it ends with this:


John Kerry has 30 years of experience looking out for the American people and can navigate our country back to prosperity and re-instill in America the dignity she so craves and deserves. He has served us well as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and has had a successful career as a district attorney, lieutenant governor, and senator.


Kerry has a positive vision for America, plus the proven intelligence, good sense, and guts to make it happen.


That's why The Iconoclast urges Texans not to rate the candidate by his hometown or even his political party, but instead by where he intends to take the country.


The Iconoclast wholeheartedly endorses John Kerry.


Oh well.


If you read the companion piece Rick recommends - Aftermath of Last Week's Editorial Endorsement – you’ll find how the locals reacted.  It’s not pretty.


Joseph, another friend in Paris, the expatriate, sends this along -


I agree, the piece is well written and far more cogent than one would expect from a small-town thingy. And the reaction speaks volumes about the devaluation of the so-called "fourth estate" and the function that it must play in order for a democracy to function properly.


I am reminded of what psychotherapists tell to those who have been terminally traumatized by some event: in effect, don't do what you would do in a particular situation, but if you have any question, imagine what a normal person would do, and do that instead.


If the United States is that traumatized party, we must effectively look backward in time to see what a normal US would do. It certainly has been rare in our history that a mere disagreement would lead to such direct and coarse threats to life, liberty and livelihood. But one will note that such reactions are not coming from Rove and Perle (though I sure that such fist-clenching makes them smile) but by those who are least able to articulate their beliefs - and probably - by those who are least able to substantiate their beliefs. Some big city fancy-pants with a pocketful of ten-dollar words says you’re wrong? Sock him one, and watch him shut the fuck up.


The degree to which these people simply cannot help themselves, the lack of self-control is worrying. It's like a political case of Tourette's syndrome.  But a few don't stop at words, a thing they have little use for anyway. If Kerry wins the White House, I would not be at all surprised to see Edwards in the oval office before the term is out, at the hands of some "activist" who is sure that he's right, but can't explain why.


Luckily, Bush does not like reading and books and all that, so he is not sitting in small meetings muttering, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"  Karl Rove keeps hoping.


I know that's an obscure reference.  (A friend in Chicago writes – “Ah, yes, but the question arises: to whom did Henry II make this remark?  Who killed Thomas a Becket?” – but you can look that up on your own with Goggle or whatever.)


But the point is, this is a small paper making an endorsement of one of the two mainstream candidates, and they get threats that their advertisers will destroy them economically, and they get this array of threats of violence and death.  Where is that coming from?  Yes, a mere disagreement has led to direct and coarse threats to life, liberty and livelihood.


Well, there are always intemperate quick-tempered sorts in any controversy.


Joseph posits a large and growing pool of inarticulate, insecure thugs who hate the fancy-pants folks with big words, angry with their lot in life and striking out.  And the Republican Party has courted them, and given them a smirking, inarticulate bully to defend.  So these “outliers” – these odd fanatics – have swelled in number, as they finally have “their man” to represent them. 


Feeding and growing this pool of resentful, know-nothing Luddites – willing to strike out even against their own interests in some sort of revenge against folks who read stuff and think ideas and facts matter – who remember what school they had only with seething resentment – who have had little success and less luck in life – may be an effective campaign strategy.  But it’s a dangerous game.


It may be, however, a winning game.





Late breaking addition:


The Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina here makes its stand.  They have always endorsed the Republican candidate.  This year they will not.  They make no endorsement –


Since Richard Nixon ran against Hubert Humphrey in 1968, the Journal has endorsed every Republican candidate for president. That list includes George W. Bush when he ran against Vice President Al Gore.


Four years ago, we expressed reservations about many of Bush's stances on social and environmental issues. The primary reason we stated for endorsing Bush's candidacy despite these reservations was that we believed he would make a better commander-in-chief. Even though Bush had a shaky knowledge of foreign affairs, we believed that he was surrounding himself with an intelligent and experienced national-security team. If Bush gets good advice "and follows where it leads, the country will prosper," we said.


Sadly, that has not happened. Today we find that our worries about a Bush presidency have been confirmed, but our optimism about his ability to lead has not.


You can read it all at the link.  It details what supports their main contentions


… What looked like strong leadership at first now looks like dangerous stubbornness. It is no virtue to lead the nation resolutely in the wrong direction.


… This is a presidency in deep trouble, made worse by the refusal to acknowledge the trouble.




Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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