What a difference 100 years can make in the editorial life of a very conservative newspaper based in southwest Ohio. Until Friday, The Cincinnati Enquirer has only endorsed Republicans for President of the United States going back a century.
The last Democrat the Hamilton County paper endorsed was Woodrow Wilson, in 1916, a segregationist who went to the Oval Office after serving as President of Princeton University. But times and candidates change, as we all know too well, given who wants that position today and what the nation can expect in return for voting their candidate of choice into the most powerful office in the world.
The news spread like wildfire Friday when the Enquirer endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump. The editorial boiled down to reservations about a Clinton presidency versus the outright fears of what President Donald Trump would do in the near term that could cause decades of trouble going forward.
“Our country needs calm, thoughtful leadership to deal with the challenges we face at home and abroad. We need a leader who will bring out the best in all Americans, not the worst. That’s why there is only one choice when we elect a president in November: Hillary Clinton,” the editorial said.
On the fear factor of the Donald vaulting to this high office, the paper laid it out: “Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn’t recognize it – instead insisting that, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” – is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency. Clinton has been criticized for being overly cautious when it comes to sending our troops into battle, but there is a measured way to react to the world’s problems. Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse control problem? The fact that so many top military and national security officials are not supporting Trump speaks volumes.
Now that this very conservative, very pro-business legacy paper has jumped ship this election cycle, it will be fascinating to see whether two other prominent Ohio papers, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Columbus Dispatch, who have been so cozy and coddling of Ohio’s lame duck Republican Gov. John Kasich over his nearly six years as state CEO, will follow suit, even though Mr. Kasich, who for the second time in his nearly 40 years as a performance politician lost his bid to be the GOP nominee, will likely recoil at the audacity of these otherwise friendly papers casting their editorial ballot for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Enquirer made no mention of Gov. Kasich or his long, losing campaign in their analysis of why Mrs. Clinton is the far superior candidate to Mr. Trump. They didn’t bring the term-limited governor, who has scandals galore that have evaded any real investigative reporting by any mainstream paper, into the conversation at all, which the PD and Dispatch are likely to do as they offer a sycophantic wink to the governor that he should have been the adult-in-the-room, commonsense conservative nominee instead of Trump.
While the former 18-year congressman has managed to hide behind his wife and daughters, saying he can’t support Trump unless they do, he might find some solace in how the New York Times, which endorsed Hillary Clinton Saturday in the most robust, clear-eyed way, described Donald Trump. “…We believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.” At the same time, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who formed a flimsy, short-lived alliance with Gov. Kasich and got beat up by Trump far more and for far longer than did Mr. Kasich, endorsed the Donald for president. Are Kasich’s political principles any more principled than Cruz’s?
John Kasich has sought and succeeded in achieving odd-ball in Republican circles, being ambiguous about whether he’ll vote for Trump yet saying without adding details about why Hillary Clinton won’t be his choice. Weighing in on the hostile relationship between Mr. Kasich and Mr. Trump, Team Trump, the the Donald himself and his spokespeople, have called the quirky governor both irrelevant and a non-factor. No one knows where John Kasich will be in another four years, not even the Lord, but it’s a fact he won’t be governor anymore after his second term ends at midnight on December 31, 2018.
If Donald Trump does win this year—and one professor who’s called every presidential election correctly since 1984 says the reality TV star is on track to do just that—John Kasich will be rubbed out sooner rather than later. If Hillary Clinton wins, an outcome that fuels the push by Plain Dealer and Dispatch political reporters to do very advance PR work for him once nobody has to kowtow to him, he will again be in a large field of GOP hopefuls who won’t put up with him as long as Trump did this cycle. It’s no secret how that played out, so why should a 68-year old not holding a prominent elected office anymore expect a different outcome?
Gov. Kasich is well known for getting his pound of flesh from those who oppose him or disagree with them, as happened when the Plain Dealer removed a video of the 64-year former Lehman Brothers banker acting like a spoiled child in the fall of 2014, when he sat for an editorial board interview session that also included his two challengers, Democrat Ed FitzGerald and Green Party candidate Anita Rios. Showing his distemper for such events, John Kasich’s handlers quickly got the Plain Dealer to remove the video. Shame on it for playing partisan politics, but if access is their priority, following instructions from the governor’s staff to remove it or suffer the consequences was the paper’s undisclosed agenda if they wanted Team Kasich to continue to give them insider information.
For those who don’t know the Plain Dealers role in Cleveland, one long-time reporter who knows the Cleveland scene and its paper very well, Roldo Batimole, put it in perspective in his recent post about how corporate welfare is practiced on the North Shore. “We don’t have a free press in Cleveland because we have a subservient press in Cleveland. Or should I just say a corporate press. Or a sleepy press. A sleepy press is a dangerous press,” he said at his blog “Have Coffee Will Write.”
These two papers stand out above all others as advocates for Kasich mounting a 2020 run for the White House, which would be his third attempt to win the hearts and minds of Republican base voters. Unfortunately for Mr. Kasich, today’s crop of GOP base of voters aren’t keen about a so-called moderate politician who says he brings people together without much proof of that since it’s gone alt-right. Gov. Kasich’s record over time, combined with his actions in office in Ohio, show his preference for style over substance. When substance is the subject, though, he’s hard-core Republican, but not alt-hard core enough to suit the new breed of uneducated, angry white voters who are rallying to board Trump’s train.
“In these uncertain times, America needs a brave leader, not bravado. Real solutions, not paper-thin promises. A clear eye toward the future, not a cynical appeal to the good old days,” the Enquirer said. “Hillary Clinton has her faults, certainly, but she has spent a lifetime working to improve the lives of Americans both inside and outside of Washington. It’s time to elect the first female U.S. president – not because she’s a woman, but because she’s hands-down the most qualified choice.
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