Sunday, October 31, 2004

Pioneer Press endorses President Bush

Posted by Craig Westover | 10:24 AM |  

As an independent contractor that writes for the Pioneer Press, I had no hand influencing the Pioneer Press endorsement of President Bush nor in its writing. That said, with a clear conscience I can say, that today’s editorial is outstanding. It is not just significant for its endorsement of the President. It is an endorsement of conservative principles.

In sharp contrast to the partisan screed of the enemy paper endorsement of John Kerry, the Pioneer Press takes the high ground, and presents a solid endorsement of the President, while expressing the genuine concerns of a true conservative position. The opening paragraph clearly summarizes the reasons for the Pioneer Press endorsement from a conservative perspective.
Like many Americans, we have been disappointed with some of the policies and decisions of President George W. Bush in his first term. He has strayed from the conservative principles that resonated four years ago: Smaller government. Thriftiness. Free trade. His environmental policies and aspects of his social agenda, too, give us pause. But at a time of war, we believe the bar must be set high for a challenger seeking to unseat the president. We expect the challengerto make a forceful, compelling, affirmative case for changing the nation's top leadership. Sen. John Kerry has not made that case convincingly and fails to inspire confidence that he would be able to lead America differently or better.
While some on the far right might take umbrage at the reference to the Pioneer Press concern over “environmental policies and aspects of his social agenda” as sops to the liberal members of the editorial board, a true conservative ought be concerned with the president’s proposed use of a constitutional amendment to alter social policy (imagine that precedent in the hands of a liberal administration) and the lack of a clearly defined role for the federal government on environmental issues -- one that limits government to its proper protective function.

At the heart of the conservative perspective from which the paper’s endorsement proceeds is this --

This is the George Bush that we would like again to endorse, the president who will govern from the middle, who pursues policies that unite, rather than divide. The president who understands that tax cuts are not a gift from a generous government, but rather the results of a frugal government living within its means and taking less from its citizens as a result. The president who holds close to his heart the notions of smaller government, individual liberty and unfettered opportunity for all Americans. The president who knows instinctively that tariffs on foreign steel and farm subsidies are antithetical to free markets, no matter how many votes they might buy in the Rust Belt or the Upper Midwest. This is the George Bush that the Pioneer Press endorses for president.

Unlike its counterpart across the river, the Pioneer Press clearly is endorsing a philosophy of government as well as the man it understands as best able to carry out that policy. And in doing so, the paper willingly opens itself up to criticism when its own institutional editorial positions wander from these expressed principles, a courageous act for today’s mainstream media. Nonetheless, it is the willingness to take that risk that is a hallmark of what journalism ought to be.

(Couragewise, it is also significant to note Knight Ridder papers around the country have gone for Kerry by at least an 18-2 margin.)

The virtually full-page Pioneer Press endorsement focuses on four key issue areas -- security issues, the economy, social security and Medicare, and health care. In each area it clearly lays out Bush’s positions, criticizing consistent with the paper’s stated position where called for, praising where praise is due. The editorial gives Kerry his credit too, where appropriate.

With the exception of a single out-of-place reference to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry. Be Happy,” The Pioneer Press sticks to analysis of Kerry’s positions without attacking his personality or character. To the credit of the Pioneer Press, and supporting the credibility of its endorsement of President Bush, there are no cheap swift boat shots, no snide “flip-flop” comments, no Teresa Heinz Kerry jokes and no exaggerated end-of-the-world misstatements of Kerry positions.

(Again, contrast with the Star Tribune endorsement, which has more mentions of Bush than Kerry -- more negativity toward Bush than support for Kerry.)

Plain and simple, the Pioneer Press endorsement at is at once a clear endorsement of conservative principles, a solid endorsement of George W. Bush as the man best able to keep the country focused on those principles and an valid plea for him to reexamine some positions and maintain that focus.

Kudos to the Pioneer Press.