Sunday, October 03, 2010

Arizona Republic editorial board to its readers: Arizona may be in lousy shape, but you should vote for the status quo

Liberals like to claim that the Arizona Republic is a "conservative" paper, but it's not. (Though to be fair, many of them remember the not-so-distant days when the Rep was officially named the "Arizona Republican" or less officially served as the press release outlet for the Arizona Republican Party.)

Conservatives like to claim that the Rep is a "liberal" paper, but it isn't.  (It just isn't a mouthpiece for the "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" wing of the AZGOP.)

Instead, the Arizona Republic is a "corporate" paper, dedicated to defending corporate profit margins.  Since most corporations operate in such a way as to derive the maximum profit from the political status quo, the Republic has become a staunch defender of that status quo.

Their latest list of election endorsements clearly illustrate this tendency.

- They passed over Terry Goddard in giving their endorsement in the race for governor to Jan Brewer.  They called Goddard an "articulate, dedicated servant of the people of this state" yet gave the nod to Brewer, citing her ability to "handle the legislature" (apparently, the Rep's editorial board slept through all of 2009) and her disbanding of the state's Department of Commerce in favor of a meaningless (and authority-less) "Commerce Authority."  What they also liked was her support for "enhancing prospects for job creation" - better known as blanket tax cuts directed to corporations.

- They ignored Rodney Glassman (literally!  He wasn't even mentioned in the article!) in giving their endorsement for U.S. Senate to John McCain.  In the opinion piece, they cited "McCain's role in all those great national and world debates," such as the debates over the war in Iraq and campaign finance reform.  What they didn't cite were McCain's accomplishments for Arizona.  They couldn't cite those accomplishments, because there aren't any.  This particular endorsement also isn't a surprise, even aside from its "status quo" characteristics - the Rep's editorial board has been in the McCain family pocket for decades (is Dan Nowicki the Republic's reporter who is embedded with McCain's staff, or is he the McCain staffer embedded with the Republic?  Either way, the effect, and the final product, is the same...)

- The Rep's endorsement of Ann Kirkpatrick in the CD1 race also serves to illustrate the Rep's "status quo" bias - she's an incumbent, and while a Democrat, she's a conservative one who thoroughly supports Big Business.  Note: While I too support and recommend voting for her, it's because she is the better candidate, not a great candidate.

- The logic the Rep's editorial board used when passing over Penny Kotterman when endorsing John Huppenthal for State Superintendent of Public Instruction astounds me, even when allowing for their "status quo" bias.  They cite his 18 years of legislative experience focusing on education issues and then follow it up with this quote -
We believe the sort of reform advocated by John Huppenthal is best for improving Arizona's often dismal comparative standing on the crucial questions of how best to improve schools. they understand that Huppenthal and the "reforms" pimped by him are some of the major reasons for Arizona's "dismal comparative standing" on most education-related metrics?  And that his experience in the lege has included years of trying to slowly destroy public education in Arizona?

Their endorsement is as sensible as a doctor sitting down with a patient who has been diagnosed with lung cancer after decades of smoking and suggesting that the patient could cure the cancer by smoking more cigarettes.

- In a bit of a surprise, the Rep's editorial board endorsed Felecia Rotellini over Tom Horne for Attorney General.  They complimented her as "smart and unflappable," which is very true, but Tom Horne is a current office holder and an establishment Republican.  This would seem to disprove my "status quo bias" position, until one remembers that, like Rotellini, Terry Goddard, the current Attorney General, is smart, unflappable, and a Democrat

- However, the Rep did spring one big surprise on voters, and not in a good way.  They twisted themselves like a pretzel to find a way to ignore Jon Hulburd and give their CD3 endorsement to Ben Quayle.

First, they opened up their piece with -
Ben Quayle, a Republican, may be the best-known congressional candidate in the country who isn't a member of the "tea party." That shouldn't matter to voters in District 3, which stretches from north-central Phoenix to New River. They don't need a celebrity. They need the best representative they can elect.
In the next paragraph, they follow that up with -
If this were a job interview, Democrat Jon Hulburd would have the large advantage. He rose to become a partner at Fennemore Craig, one of Phoenix's top law firms. He left to start an import business. He has career and community accomplishments that Quayle can't match.
So naturally, after pointing out Quayle's celebrity status and saying that CD3 doesn't need a celebrity in Congress, and Hulburd's vastly superior resume and qualifications, they gave their endorsement to Quayle -
But elections aren't just about resumes. They're about ideas. And on that score, Quayle is the better candidate to succeed John Shadegg. Quayle is well-versed in the issues. He speaks with passion and conviction.
So, the Rep soft-pedals Quayle's lack of qualifications for any elected office, much less a seat in Congress, and completely ignores his pre-candidacy career as a writer for the website Dirty Scottsdale, under the porn-riffic nom de plume "Brock Landers."

Could the Quayle family's previous ownership of the Republic have influenced the endorsement?  Nahhhh, couldn't be...

The headline for the Rep's endorsement was "Ben Quayle offers candor, conviction."

Given that Quayle's previous "candor" indicated a deep disrespect for women and could lead to convictions of the criminal variety if he becomes part of the free-for-all social environment in D.C.'s political subculture, instead of being a surprise, perhaps the Rep's endorsement of his [possible] ascension to Congress would be in perfect keeping with their desire to maintain the status quo.

Less than a week ago, the Republic actually brought themselves some credit with their list of endorsements for the Central Arizona Water Conservation District - the candidates they endorsed were intelligent, educated, experienced, and highly-qualified for the job.

Apparently, however, those qualities are desirable only in candidates for lower-profile (though extremely important) offices. 

I may agree with some of the Rep's coming endorsements, but where I will support the candidates who are better for Arizona, they'll be supporting the candidates who they see as most protective of their preferred status quo.