Anyone familiar with a newspaper editorial board’s process of deciding which candidate to endorse for any office in any election will confess it can be a lengthy and sometimes contentious task. Two weeks ago when the New York Times editorial board endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, anyone with a pulse could see the board did its due diligence and put forward a well-researched and well-conceived rationale for endorsing Clinton. Late this week, the Washington Post weighed in on the presidential election and officially endorsed Hillary Clinton and gave what is arguably the most well thought-out and clearly reasoned endorsement of any candidate in recent memory.
Although the Post methodically laid out its reasons for endorsing Ms. Clinton, the editorial’s first paragraph really said everything any of their readers needed to know about Clinton as a superior choice over not just Donald Trump, but any candidate from any party.
“There is a well-qualified, well-prepared candidate on the ballot. Hillary Clinton has the potential to be an excellent president of the United States, and we endorse her without hesitation.”
In similar fashion of the NYT’s endorsement, the Post did not focus on why Donald Trump is “dreadful” or why Clinton is the “lesser of two evils;” because it is not why the board endorsed her. However, like any thoughtful endorsement it did not shy away from why it believes, right or wrong, that some Americans dislike and distrust the former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. The piece carefully explained how and why it believes Hillary could have handled the past 25 years of conservative attacks on her character better.
Interestingly, the endorsement did note what it called Clinton’s “genuine flaws, missteps and weaknesses;” of which one, a lack of charisma, the board considered an asset in America’s “angrily divided nation” where, if elected, she will have to govern and work with a political party “determined to thwart her.”
It is worth taking the 4 minutes to read the Post’s endorsement, but there was one specific point that stands out as justification for the opening paragraph about Clinton being “well-qualified and well-prepared” to be “an excellent president.”
In a few words with significant weight behind them, the Post said Hillary Clinton is “dogged, resilient, purposeful and smart. She does not let her feelings get in the way of the job at hand. She is well positioned to get something done,” and she will not be deterred from progress by a defeat no matter how brutal.
The Post specifically noted that instead of holding “some grudges” toward Republicans who “lambasted her husband in the most personal terms” during an impeachment fiasco, after winning election to the Senate in 2000 “colleagues in both parties found her to be businesslike, knowledgeable, intent on accomplishment, willing to work across the aisle and less focused than most on getting credit.”
On domestic issues, the Post remarked that “Ms. Clinton’s agenda is commendable, and parts may actually be achievable: immigration reform; increased investment in infrastructure, research and education, paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy; sounder family-leave policies; criminal-justice reform. In an era of slowing growth and growing income inequality, these all make sense, as do her support for curbing climate change and for regulating gun ownership.”
On all of those issues, the editorial board noted that Clinton may not please some farther-left Democrats or hard-right Republicans, but because this is a divided America and progress comes in excruciatingly painful incremental steps, her steady hand, knowledge, and intent on accomplishment by working across the aisle will achieve results; if only incrementally.
What was surprising, really, was the Post’s remark that “Ms. Clinton underlined her fitness for office in what was essentially the first major decision of her potential presidency: her choice of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) as running mate.” The Post noted, rightly, that “Ms. Clinton selected a person of sound judgment, with executive and legislative experience and unquestionable capacity to serve as president if necessary.” It was an executive-level choice that demonstrated Clinton’s “seriousness of purpose and relentless commitment to achievements in the public interest” instead of making a choice based on exciting “this or that part of her base.”
The Post ended its endorsement with a point that did not have to be made and really did nothing to substantiate the worth of a major newspaper’s otherwise brilliant endorsement. It said, “We believe that Ms. Clinton will prove a worthy example to girls who celebrate the election of America’s first female president. We believe, too, that anyone who votes for her will be able to look back, four years from now, with pride in that decision.”
Anyone who supports or votes for Hillary Clinton should not do so based on her gender regardless the historical or role model value for girls or women. The only reason to support Clinton’s candidacy is because she is “well-qualified and well-prepared to be an excellent president;” the most important reason offered by the Washington Post editorial board.