The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, June 16, 2004  

First Newspaper in the Nation to Take a Stand

In an unusual, stunning, and, yes, bold move, the Philadelphia Daily News today endorsed the presidential candidacy of John F. Kerry, the first newspaper in the nation to take a stand on the November election, and the editors issued their support with conviction and enthusiasm.

Good for the Daily News!

The editors write:

Last week, the nation looked to the past with the death of President Ronald Reagan.

This week, the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John F. Kerry, suspended out of respect to the deceased 40th president, start fresh.

In that spirit, this newspaper, the first in the nation, endorses John Kerry for president. Unlike the current White House occupant, Kerry can lead America to a brighter, better future. He has shown the personal courage, compassion, intellect and skill to lead this country in a time of war abroad and economic troubles at home. He is a serious man for a serious time.

A few excerpts from the paper’s case against Bush:

[T]he Bush administration has been marked by failure -- failure to shepherd the country through a tough economic downturn, failure to keep the nation focused on the true enemies to our security.

He has failed in even the one challenge he set out for himself at the beginning of his administration -- to bring the country together. His has been one of the most ideologically driven and divisive administrations in recent times.

Instead of moving forward, the country has been on the wrong track. These last four years have been wasted.

Bush wasted the opportunity to lead an international movement against al Qaeda, the real terrorist threat. Instead he has led us, with false intelligence, into a senseless war. […]

Bush was left with a trillion-dollar surplus at the end of the Clinton administration. The president took the money and wasted it with tax cuts for the wealthiest. As the deficits rose to record levels, the “tax cuts fix everything” ideology prevented his administration from changing what clearly is the wrong course.

From the editors’ case for Kerry:

Given the challenges, whom should we trust to lead the nation for the next four years? The man whose incompetence helped create some of the problems?

No. We have a much better choice in Sen. John Kerry.

John Kerry’s long life in the national spotlight has been defined by steadfast support for the principled and intelligent use of American power in the world. His proposals -- not to mention the administration that he will create -- promise new hope for America.

Like Bush, Kerry was born to wealth and privilege. Like Bush, he went to prep schools and then to Yale. But in little else since then has Kerry been like Bush, who acts as if his presidency is a birthright left over by his father.

Kerry acknowledges that his privileges left him with a responsibility to serve and an ambition to lead. And he has -- from combat in the Navy, then as the cleancut (and therefore highly effective) leader of the Vietnam veterans’ anti-war movement, as a prosecutor in Boston, and in four terms in the U.S. Senate.

He is not the indecisive waffler the Bush team would have you believe. Instead, he is offering a concrete, pragmatic direction for the nation. […]

Because he respects the intelligence of the American people, he rarely talks in sound bites.

He understands that sound bites aren’t solutions. Kerry’s positions, while sometimes complicated, are grounded in reality, not in doctrines developed in think tanks. […]

The Daily News editors follow the endorsement with an aggressive and meaningful strategy to, in their words, “make sure Pennsylvania lands in the Kerry win column.” In words directly with particular emphasis to unregistered and otherwise unlikely voters, the paper exhorts: “You can help Kerry win Pennsylvania. Act now. The commonwealth -- indeed the nation -- cannot afford another four years of George Bush.”

Congratulations to Sen. Kerry and kudos to the editors.

[Post-publication addendum (June 17): Daily News readers react to the endorsement. Here’s my personal favorite, from one Michael P. Kilhoffer of Philadelphia: “So, the Daily News has joined North Korea, the French, Palestinian terrorists and al Qaeda in endorsing John F. Simoes Ferierra Heinz Kennedy Kerry. You’re in good company.”]

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