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Democracy failed me but column can’t Richard L Connor Opinion


April 02. 2013 9:26PM
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DEMOCRACY STINKS.
That’s part of a running joke I make about newspapers I run.
I love to try to reach consensus and I often seek majority opinion from our group of executives on decisions. Sometimes I disagree so strongly with the majority I overrule.
That’s when the second part of the joke comes in.
I add, “democracy has its place, but not in my workplace.”
Last week I failed to persuade our editorial board to endorse Sen. John McCain for President of the United States. I was unsuccessful not once but twice.
The first vote was 5 to 3 with one undecided. The second was 6 to 3 in favor of endorsing Sen. Barack Obama.
I could have overruled but didn’t because I believe our process was democratic, the decision a mirror of what appears to be the sentiment of many persons, perhaps even a majority, and because I respect the intellectual honesty of the members of our editorial endorsement board.
Our group of nine persons was different than many newspaper editorial endorsement boards, which often are comprised almost entirely of editorial staff members. Ours had a representative from each department at the newspaper. Fewer than half of the members were from the editorial department.
We constituted it this way because I want the endorsement decisions to represent the voice of the entire newspaper, not just one department.
Did the decision actually reflect what might be a popular vote if we polled all employees? I bet it did. There is great frustration among the people of this country with the current government. Some of that may fade when a person walks into the voting booth in two weeks. That may mean that even some on our editorial board may change their vote. For now, the decision stands.
I believe The Times Leader board’s decision was heavily influenced less by enthusiasm for Obama than for dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush and his policies and by extension any other member of his party.
I have been a McCain fan going back to the days when he first challenged Bush for the nomination over eight years ago. I still am.
Luckily, I retain this space in the paper to write my own opinions. Let’s see if I can be more effective with our readers than I was with the endorsement board. Here’s why John McCain should be our next President.
Experience and Legislative Accomplishments — Sen. McCain has been in Washington for decades, first as a U.S. Congressman and now as a U.S. Senator. He has sponsored or co-authored countless legislation, much of it with bipartisan participation and support. Sen. Obama has served four years in the senate and has not produced any legislative record of note. He’s been too busy running for president. These times, troubled and turbulent, do not need someone who needs on-the-job training and has no record of decision-making but is eloquent, calming and gives speeches sounding like they came from peace rallies 30 years ago.
The War — No real difference in either candidate. If either one wanted a sure-fire recipe for winning the presidency he would say “I will withdraw all troops from the Mideast in January of 2009.” Neither one has because they know they cannot. In fact, both know if we withdraw from Iraq we will just move over to Afghanistan.
Leadership and Grace under Pressure — Sen. McCain is not only an American war hero but also an icon for patriotism. He has been a leader of troops. He has had to make executive decisions. And his example of heroism and fidelity to principle as a POW in Vietnam, where he was tortured and where he refused to accept an early release because he came from a high-profile American military family. He’s made difficult decisions under extreme stress. That’s a quality needed more than ever over the next four years. He understands business. His wife’s family owns and has operated a number of successful business ventures for many years. Sen. Obama has had basically only one job. That was at a law firm and he did not work there long, just over a year.
Character — There are a number of examples of Sen. McCain being true to his word. One of the best is that he said he would live by public financing rules. Sen. Obama originally said he would, too. But then Sen. Obama backed away from his pledge when he realized his campaign could raise more money on its own. Sen. Obama’s associations with any number of persons and causes, most importantly the white-hating, anti-America spewing Rev. Jeremiah White, who was his pastor for 20 years, shows him to be at the very least a bad judge of character. He has not chosen his friends wisely and as my late mother would advise, “You are judged by the company you keep.”
Openness — Who is more transparent than Sen. McCain? Want to know how he differs from the Bush administration? Look no further. He hides nothing. If a newspaper stands for anything it is openness, particularly in government. Sen. McCain is a what-you-see-is- what-you-get person. He’s candid and outspoken. He accommodates the press at every turn. Not Sen. Obama. He has managed a great coup. He is distant from the press, even the corps traveling with him, and yet he has managed to get the most favorable treatment from the major media of the country than any candidate I can recall in 40 years in this business. Sen. Obama will not reveal any number of important documents including his health report, records from his undergraduate and post-graduate college days and his work when he was head of the Harvard Law Review. Sen. Obama is as closed about information as the Bush administration. Newspapers should stand for openness and transparency in government.
Decisiveness — It sounds like the musings of another time, another place. Sen. Obama would have been a great flower child during the 1970s. Who can argue with a platform to talk, debate, and reach out to perhaps hostile world neighbors? “Hey. Man. Let’s talk it out. Okay, dude. Cool.” Sorry, but I want someone who exudes cockiness and someone who looks and sounds like he won’t back down. That’s Sen. McCain. I want someone who will negotiate but will do it from a position of strength. And I’d be more comfortable if he was armed with a gun, not a bunch of roses.
Independence — No one has been more of a maverick or independent in Washington than Sen. McCain, and for anyone to imply he is the same as President George W. Bush is ludicrous. He has fought big corporations and small earmarks. His successful election is our only hope for a way to derail what will be a runaway train with the Democrats dominating both houses of Congress. Sen. Obama will be a rubber stamp for the Democratically controlled Congress.
Choice of Vice President — I don’t like either. Gov. Sarah Palin has my sympathy because I believe she has been treated unevenly and unfairly by the press. Beyond that I am not impressed and believe choosing her was a mistake. Sen. Joe Biden is an empty suit. His gaffes on the campaign trail have been numerous but he does not get the scrutiny Palin has. Imagine what would have happened if she had, as Biden did, said that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President during the financial crash of 1929? He went on to describe how FDR appeared on television to calm the nation. One problem. There was no television at that time. Sen. Biden has no record of major accomplishment despite decades in the Senate.
With both of these candidates, in my opinion, you have to pray and hope they can rise to the occasion, as President Harry Truman did, when FDR died in office. Despite my inability to warm to Palin, I must point out that she has more executive experience than Sen. Obama.
Our endorsement will lead to cries about the liberal press. I believe that over the years the newspapers in this country, as a whole , have endorsed more Republicans than Democrats for President. This year it appears to be 2-1 in favor of Obama.
Still, our tally at the end of the endorsement process shows us right down the middle. We made four endorsements -- one in a state legislative race, two U.S. Congressional races and the presidential race. We ended up endorsing two Republican candidates and two Democratic candidates.
Sometimes that’s the way things work out.
I believe The Times Leader board’s decision was heavily influenced less by enthusiasm for Obama than for dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush and his policies and by extension any other member of his party.



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