September 12, 2016
By Joe Rothstein
On Sunday, the Dallas Morning News commemorated America’s September 11 with a shock that jarred Texas. The newspaper endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, its first Democratic presidential endorsement since before World War II---75 years, 19 presidential elections. The paper hadn't even endorsed Texan Lyndon Johnson when the alternative was Barry Goldwater.
Days earlier, the editors of the Dallas Morning News set the stage for its break with Republican orthodoxy with this indictment of Donald Trump:
“We have no interest in a Republican nominee for whom all principles are negotiable, nor in a Republican Party that is willing to trade away principle for pursuit of electoral victory. Trump doesn't reflect Republican ideals of the past; we are certain he shouldn't reflect the GOP of the future. Donald Trump is not qualified to serve as president and does not deserve your vote.”
Then, instead of a pox-on-both-your-houses non-endorsement, or a lesser-of-two-evils wimp-out, the Dallas Morning News doubled down with this full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
“There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.
“In Clinton's eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress' most conservative lawmakers.
“As President Barack Obama's first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It's no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton. She also has the support of dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
“Clinton has remained dogged by questions about her honesty, her willingness to shade the truth. Her use of a private email server while secretary of state is a clear example of poor judgment. She should take additional steps to divorce allegations of influence peddling from the Clinton Foundation. And she must be more forthright with the public by holding news conferences, as opposed to relying on a shield of carefully scripted appearances and speeches.
“Those are real shortcomings. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups.
“We reject the politics of personal destruction. Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent's.”
The editorial support of the leading newspaper in Dallas is not likely to turn Texas blue for Clinton in this election. Back in July the Houston Chronicle also endorsed her with an editorial that began:
“On Nov. 8, 2016, the American people will decide between two presidential contenders who represent the starkest political choice in living memory. They will choose between one candidate with vast experience and a lifelong dedication to public service and another totally lacking in qualifications to be president. They will decide whether they prefer someone deeply familiar with the issues that are important to this nation or a person whose paper-thin, bumper-sticker proposals would be dangerous to the nation and the world if somehow they were enacted.”
It's debatable how much influence these editorial endorsements may have on the election outcome in Texas, but together they may stiffen backbones of others---newspapers, opinion leaders, Republicans who fear for the future of their party as well as their country---to step out of the shadows and call this contest for what it is---a legitimately qualified candidate against a national menace.
As the Dallas Morning News says, concerns voters may have about her are in “a different universe than her opponent’s.” Demonization of Clinton has been a thriving industry for decades. No one in public life has been scrutinized as microscopically as Clinton.
This endless negativism has resulted in a cloud of distrust for Clinton that is hugely overblown and too embedded to be easily dispersed. Because of that, polls show that many voters, probably a majority, would rather go back to square one and nominate two different people for president. That’s not going to happen. Either Clinton or Trump will become our next president. A decision that will determine whether the White House is in capable hands or becomes a scary and unpredictable reality show.