The Rittenhouse Review

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

Sunday, October 17, 2004  

Philadelphia Paper Endorses Specter

The Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer is often a disappointment. More than half the bulk is comprised of advertisements in one form or another and of what remains, too much is recycled from the Associated Press or borrowed from other newspapers. (Question: What would happen to the Inquirer if the A.P. feed went down?) Trust me, it's not like sitting down with the Times.

Today's edition was particularly disappointing, as the editors wasted paper and ink to publish "Reelect Specter," an endorsement of the reelection campaign of the senior senator from Pennsylvania.

(The Philadelphia Daily News took a smarter tack, endorsing Rep. Joe Hoeffel on October 4, just another reason to be happy to live in one the country's dwindling number of two-newspaper towns.)

Granted, the Inquirer enthusiastically endorsed John F. Kerry for president -- "urgent, deeply felt," they said. The editors went so far as to simultaneously launch a 21-day series of editorials supporting Kerry's candidacy heading toward Election Day, a gutsy move for which they deserve credit. (You will not be surprised to learn the Inquirer has taken considerable heat from a segment of its readers crying "foul": nasty e-mails, cancelled subscriptions, etc., etc.)

And, as unsettling as the endorsement is, the editors' nod in Sen. Specter's direction was hardly enthusiastic, relied heavily on a single issue, namely abortion, and took full notice of the senator's slippery slope of substanceless stances:

This endorsement does not take lightly Specter's tendency to run to the right as he gears up for reelection. He did so this year to overcome a formidable challenge in the Republican primary from conservative Rep. Pat Toomey. Casting himself as a Republican with an independent streak, Specter was a reliable vote for President Bush on issues ranging from tax cuts, to the invasion of Iraq, to drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Hoeffel is correct that Specter's votes for the Bush tax cuts helped worsen the deficit. In his next term, Specter, 74, must take more seriously the need to end government borrowing. That moderate streak ought to show up more often in the new year.

Faint praise, that.

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