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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Gerry Connolly: WaPo's Second Choice Endorsement

As an astute commenter reminded me, today's Washington Post endorsed Gerry Connolly for the June 10 primary. Believe it or not, this does not surprise or upset me. I know two things.

The first is that Mr. Connolly is the WaPo's second choice. They would much rather have Tom Davis to endorse in the general election. He's their boy and has been for years. Indeed, the Post may yet endorse Keith Fimian in the general, though I suspect they will cite Connolly's government experience and moderate, pro business credentials once again to endorse him over a neophyte in the general election in November. And they'd be right to do that.

The second thing is that the Washington Post consistently picks the moderate and is a center right paper, despite the radical right's denial of this. Unlike the Washington Times, the Washington Post retains some respectability when it comes to common sense over ideology. But that doesn't make it a progressive beacon.

For example, in last year's state Senate race, they endorsed Jeannemarie Devolitis Davis over Chap Peterson. In addition, back in 2006, they went with Harris Miller over Jim Webb in their endorsements. Actually, given this track record for influencing voters, their choice may actually be heartening for Byrne's supporters.

More telling than whom they endorse is why they endorse. Here's a brief excerpt from their 2006 endorsement of Miller:
THE CONTEST in Virginia between the two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate is easily caricatured as war hero vs. wonk. One candidate, James Webb of Falls Church, is a scrappy former Marine and much-decorated Vietnam veteran with impressive literary credentials and an Emmy Award to his name. The other, Harris Miller of Fairfax County, is a longtime Democratic party apparatchik whose passion for public policy contributed to his success as a telecommunications lobbyist. Some Democrats have convinced themselves that only a candidate with Mr. Webb's résumé and panache stands a chance of knocking off incumbent Sen. George Allen, a Republican with a daunting track record of electoral success. But that would be missing a key point, which is this: Of the two primary candidates, Mr. Miller is the better-briefed, better-focused and more thoughtful. He would make the better senator.
And their reason why Miller was the "better candidate" in their view is explained by what they disliked about James Webb (emphasis is mine):
He was an early and prescient critic of the war in Iraq and its likely consequences, a stand that won him converts in the blogosphere and beyond. But since announcing his candidacy he seems to have given scant time and attention to issues ranging from education to tax policy to immigration, as if the cachet of his military past excuses him from having to master the pressing questions of the present -- not the best trait for a candidate for the Senate. Mr. Webb's somewhat strident populism on trade policy tends toward xenophobic sloganeering and business-bashing. And while he is right to focus concern on the widening disparities of Americans' income and wealth, his ideas about the problem's causes and possible antidotes are sketchy
Now, look at the Post's rationale for supporting Gerry Connolly over Leslie Byrne (once again, emphasis mine):
Mr. Connolly is not universally beloved; he can be thin-skinned and hardheaded. But there is no denying his dedication and effectiveness on a range of issues affecting the region, including climate change, transportation and affordable housing. Ms. Byrne has backing from unions and other progressive groups. But her sharp-elbow tactics have injected a toxic note into most of the campaigns she has run, raising doubt about her ability to work cooperatively on regional issues in Congress. The Washington area's congressional delegation has a tradition of bipartisanship; Mr. Connolly is a better bet to fit that mold.
Once again, the Washington Post is simply being true to their pro business, anti-working class and anti labor bias. The Washington Post has long been the cheerleader for free trade, outsourcing, and the war in Iraq. They are to the right of Gerry Connolly by a mile. But given that Tom Davis isn't around anymore, Connolly, at least, fits into the moderate, centrist pro business, pro developer mold, with a dollop of liberalism on social issues, that the Washington Post likes.

In an era of a shrinking middle class, a declining economy, rising unemployment, and an endless war in Iraq, sapping our nation's stength, the Washington Post has basically endorsed business as usual.

But Leslie Byrne, like Jim Webb, who endorsed her early, represents change. Is she sharp edged. You betcha! Like the "strident populist" Webb, she'll fight for us!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You say "Once again, the Washington Post is simply being true to their pro business, anti-working class and anti labor bias."

Do you feel that Governor Tim Kaine is doing the same thing because he endorsed Connolly? How about Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Senator George Barker?

What about Delegates Chuck Caputo, Mark Sickles, Dave Marsden, David Bulova, and all of the Democratic Fairfax County supervisors who represent the 11th District?

Are they all pro-business, anti-working class and anti-labor?

How about SEIU, UFCW, the Laborers, and the Firefighters? Are they not really labor unions that are true to labor's values because they endorse Connolly?

You should probably take down the photo of you with Governor Kaine that is prominently displayed on your blog just as Lowell removed Kaine's name from RK.

It is a shame that Byrne and her blogger lackeys have made this race so negative.

Byrne is a good candidate but she is going to lose because of the over-the-top screaming and lieing that has emanated from her bloggers and from Emily's List.

Anonymous said...

You say "Once again, the Washington Post is simply being true to their pro business, anti-working class and anti labor bias."

Do you feel that Governor Tim Kaine is doing the same thing because he endorsed Connolly? How about Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and Senator George Barker?

What about Delegates Chuck Caputo, Mark Sickles, Dave Marsden, David Bulova, and all of the Democratic Fairfax County supervisors who represent the 11th District?

Are they all pro-business, anti-working class and anti-labor?

How about SEIU, UFCW, the Laborers, and the Firefighters? Are they not really labor unions that are true to labor's values because they endorse Connolly?

You should probably take down the photo of you with Governor Kaine that is prominently displayed on your blog just as Lowell removed Kaine's name from RK.

It is a shame that Byrne and her blogger lackeys have made this race so negative.

Byrne is a good candidate but she is going to lose because of the over-the-top screaming and lieing that has emanated from her bloggers and from Emily's List.

Anonymous said...

Blogger lackeys????????
Some people support Byrne, some people support Connolly. That is just how it is.
no need to get personal.
Alice
GOTV

Anonymous said...

Typical Connolly comment. If you don't support him, you must be evil, a lackey, or something like that. As the Post said, Connolly's a bully, and so are some of his top supporters.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your excellent commentary - should be manditory reading for everyone planning to vote Tuesday. You have clearly pointed out the differences between Gerry and Leslie (unlike Post writer who keeps saying they are so.. close on the issues).
JRM

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thank you JRM and special thanks to Alice at GOTV, who has supported Gerry. You are right, some people support one and others support the other one. In fact, I expect that we will all be united after the primary.

The truth is Gerry is more pro business and more of a moderate. He'd admit as much and has been proud of it.

Leslie is far more progressive. Despite the unions that supported Gerry, Leslie is a one hundred percenter when it comes to supporting things working people need. That doesn't make Gerry evil. It just means he's not my first choice.

My point about the WaPo is that their endorsements go consistently to the most centrist candidate they can find. I think that's still true.

As for whom Dick Saslaw, Dave Marsden, Mark Sickles, Chuck Caputo and David Bulova support, I am proud to count them all friends and good fellow Democrats. But I disagree with them on this particular race - btw, several of those mentioned also supported Harris Miller over Jim Webb. But after the primary, we all came together.

As for Tim Kaine, I am disappointed that he endorsed at all. As the titular head of the Democratic Party in Virginia, he could have played a much more important role as the unifier after the primary. I think he missed an opportunity to be a statesman rather than a politician. I also said that before. But I still support him too.

And I stand by everything I said in this posting.

Hokie Guru said...

Anonymous is a Woman... that was an excellent post... I agree with everyone of your comments... the only thing missing is "David Broder is a Gasbag!!!" LOL

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-begala/david-broder-is-a-gasbag_b_46923.html

Anonymous said...

In 2003, Connolly first won the Chairmanship and was the first winner to get less than 100,000 votes. Tom Davis in winning in 1991 got more than that and there were 200,000 fewer voters in the county then. In 2007, Connolly got 113,000 votes in Fairfax County. In 2005, Leslie Byrne got over 159,000 votes in the same county. Gerry says he won most of the precincts in the 11th district in 2007 but Leslie got more votes in every one of those precincts in 2005. In fact, Gerry was not the top Democratic vote getter in 2007 in any precinct in the 11th district. The best he could do was being second in two precincts. In his home district of Providence the best he could do was 5th in a precinct and in his own home precinct of Mantua he was 6th. To be fair, in some races other candidates were unopposed, but Connolly still couldn’t hold the base Democratic vote. Leslie Byrne was only able to finish first in 2 precincts but she was 2nd in 28. While Gerry trailed the only comparative candidates - the Delegates - by over 12,000 votes in Fairfax, Leslie led them by over 20,000 votes.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis. However, I think you have to be very far left to ever consider the WP a "center right" newspaper. You do read the editorial page, right?

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Yes, I read the editorial page. The one that is still in favor of the Iraq invasion, even after its own front page reporters reported that no weapons of mass destruction or links to al Qaeda were ever found.

It's the editorial page that regularly lauds free trade, outsourcing, and globalization, all of which are inimical to working people and the middle class. Indeed, it's the editorial page that, for years, assured us the economy was was strong and going great guns even while their own front page reporters were doing sensitive stories about the plight of those left behind by the economic successes of big business. It's the same editorial page that barely recognized that the benefits of that economy were barely trickling down to everybody else.

Only now that large investors and big corporation are in trouble is that editorial page bemoaning the economy and the lack of regulation that brought us to economic ruination.

It's the same editorial page that has criticized organized labor, employee free choice, and sensible regulation.

As I conceded, the WaPo has a dollop of "social liberalism." In other words, they disagree with cultural conservatives on gay rights, gun control and a woman's reproductive rights. There they are indeed liberal. But only there.

If you use only the culture war to define liberal vs conservative, then you would be right about the Post being progressive. But to me, there's a much larger definition and a broader range of issues.

Most progressives would include economic justice and environmentalism in the mix. And that's were the Post is center right.

Anonymous said...

Most progressives would include economic justice and environmentalism in the mix.

If you can package that correctly you can peel off a ton of religious voters.

Its the social stuff that usually dooms yall

___________________________________

Intersting that Warner, Webb and Kaine have been weak on at least one of the three prongs of prorgressive

Barack Obama is the first candidate I see that is progressive economically, environmentally, and socially.

Thats why he's one of the most liberal senators :-p

Leslie Byrne is also a true progressive. It should be very interesting in the fall if she wins tomorrow.

NMM

NMM