Running Scared: Observations of a Former Republican
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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Newspaper Non-endorsements

posted by Jazz at 10/20/2004 04:09:00 PM


This almost makes me want to move to Tampa. The editorial board of the Tampa Tribune, a highly conservative paper who has endorsed Republican candidates in all but one election since Ike was in office, has decided that they can not endorse either Kerry or Bush. The quoted bit may be a rather long, but this is worth the read.

"We find ourselves in a position unimaginable four years ago when we strongly endorsed for president a fiscal conservative and ``moderate man of mainstream convictions'' who promised to wield military muscle only as a last resort and to resist the lure of ``nation building.''

We find ourselves deeply conflicted today about the presidential race, skeptical of the promises and positions of Sen. John Kerry and disappointed by the performance of President George W. Bush.

As stewards of the Tribune's editorial voice, we find it unimaginable to not be lending our voice to the chorus of conservative-leaning newspapers endorsing the president's re- election. We had fully expected to stand with Bush, whom we endorsed in 2000 because his politics generally reflected ours: a strong military, fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility and small government. We knew him to be a popular governor of Texas who fought for lower taxes, less government and a pro-business constitution.

But we are unable to endorse President Bush for re- election because of his mishandling of the war in Iraq, his record deficit spending, his assault on open government and his failed promise to be a ``uniter not a divider'' within the United States and the world.

Neither can we endorse Sen. Kerry, whose undistinguished Senate record stands at odds with our conservative principles and whose positions on the Iraq war - the central issue in this campaign - have been difficult to distinguish or differentiate.

It is an achingly difficult decision to not endorse a candidate in the presidential contest, and we do not reach this decision lightly."

They also point out some areas where Bush has simply been a complete disappointment to traditional conservatives and Republicans.

"But groupthink took hold among the neocons, while those with contrary points of view, like Secretary of State Colin Powell, were sidelined until after key decisions were made. It was almost as though someone who asked tough questions was seen as siding with the terrorists.

When Gen. Eric Shinseki, then Army chief of staff, said that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to secure a postwar Iraq, his argument was dismissed and the general summarily pushed aside.

But after Baghdad fell, we saw how insufficient troop numbers led to the looting of hospitals, businesses and schools - everything but the Oil Ministry, which our forces secured.

At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said with great hubris that the uprising was ``untidy'' but not unexpected. And the president himself challenged the enemy to ``bring it on.''

Now we learn from Ambassador Paul Bremer, former presidential envoy to Iraq, that ``we never had enough troops on the ground'' to stop the insurgency. Baath party loyalists went underground only to launch a guerrilla campaign that makes Iraq less safe today than immediately after Baghdad fell."

I've been waiting to read some brutally honest assessments like this. Good job to the Tampa Trib.