Progress Endorses Bush: Why?

In 2000, the Daily Progress endorsed George Bush for president. Four years later, Bush has failed to live up to a single one of the promises on which they based their endorsement. Yet the Progress endorsed him again yesterday, in their biggest stretch of an endorsement since their endorsement of Ann Reineke and Kenneth Jackson for Council earlier this year. Why did they do this? And what does it say for the Progress’ editorial staff and our ability, as readers, to divine meaning or guidance from their positions on matters local and national?

In 2000, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress, a publication owned by media conglomerate Media General, endorsed George Bush for president. Here is the text of their November 5 endorsement. I have emphasized the particularly ludicrous sections:

After eight years of Clinton-Gore scandals, it’s time for a fresh start.

George W. Bush offers that fresh start. In both substance and style, he promises superior leadership to that of Al Gore. It is a leadership that will help America retain its heritage of individual freedom with individual responsibility.

A keystone to that philosophy in action is Mr. Bush’s proposal to partially privatize Social Security. He pledges to sustain promised benefits and would not change the program for those at or near retirement. But for younger workers, he would offer the option of using a portion of their Social Security taxes for individual investment. But several realities weigh against that risk:

  • Federally managed Social Security funds have a far longer history of dismal return on investment, barely keeping up with inflation. Even if market conditions resume the slower growth we once knew, private investors have an excellent chance to better Social Security’s rate of return.
  • The Bush alternative would be voluntary. If workers don’t feel comfortable with private investment, they may leave their Social Security money with the government until retirement.
  • To stay solvent, the fund will need a boost from additional revenue sources — or a cut in future benefits — and this pending crisis calls for some sort of reform.

Mr. Bush also promises to take the current Social Security surplus and sequester it for Social Security use. Previously, Congress has raided this and other trust funds to pay for current programs, leaving IOUs instead. This practice must stop, and a “lock box” for Social Security is a good start.

Mr. Bush also would promote policies that encourage personal freedom in education, giving parents and local school districts more control; in senior citizen health care, by offering elders the option to choose Medicare or their own health plan, and in many other areas.

His policies would boost business, entrepreneurship and research and development investment, creating jobs for Americans.

One downside: Although Mr. Bush has said he would push for more R&D support for alternative energy, he has also said he would open up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. Not only for environmental reasons should this be avoided. This country recently experienced an energy scare, but not an energy crisis. If a true crisis develops we will need these reserves; in the meanwhile we should retain them in the same way most of us keep a savings account for emergencies.

In style, George W. Bush is less like his father than like the previous Republican president, Ronald Reagan. He is described as a decision-maker who briskly sets policy directions and expects his staff to implement them. This style will work as long as he lives up to his pledge to surround himself with an experienced support group; his selection of the extremely knowledgeable Dick Cheney as vice presidential running mate and his hope of recruiting Colin Powell as secretary of state show — along with other astute personnel choices — that he is capable of wise decisions.

Mr. Bush also has a reputation in Texas politics for inclusion and working well across party lines. He promises to do the same in Washington, easing the sometimes vicious partisanship of recent years.

For these reasons and more, we endorse George W. Bush.

To recap, here are the reasons why the Progress endorsed Bush in 2000:

  • privatizing Social Security seemed like a good idea at the time
  • he would not raid Social Security to fund other government activities
  • he would give parents and local school districts more control
  • he would create more jobs
  • he would hire good staff and hold them to exacting standards
  • he can make wise decisions
  • he would unite the Republican and Democratic parties

I feel a bit silly even pointing it out, but Bush has, of course, done none of these things. We now know that privatization of Social Security would be disastrous; Leave No Child Behind has removed nearly all educational control from localities; the economy is in the toilet; no matter how horribly that his staff has screwed up (September 11, no WMDs in Iraq, the Plame affair, etc., etc.), none of them have ever been fired or in any way held accountable; “wise” is a word that I have never, ever seen used to describe a single one of George Bush’s decisions by anybody; Bush has worked hard to drive a wedge between the parties, both in the congress and throughout the country.

It is obvious that President George Bush has let down The Daily Progress. He promised to do all of those things, and the Progress believed him. It’s understandable that they would expect him to tell the truth. President Bush once spoke about getting tricked like this, saying: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me…you can’t get fooled again.”

Only, it seems, Charlottesville’s daily newspaper can get fooled again. Despite batting .000 in their endorsement of George Bush four years ago, they’ve gone and done it again.

In War, Bush Better Choice

October 31, 2004

For many Americans this will be the most taxing presidential election they have ever experienced — one that has generated the most passion, caused the most soul-searching.

It is also the most crucial election in many decades. On it may depend the course of history for the rest of the century, perhaps even the fate of civilization as we know it.

The course of recent history has led us to this moment.

When the dark tides of fascism, communism and other forms of despotism began devouring liberty in Europe and hopes of liberty in Asia in the last century, the United States took up the defense of these ideals. Our heroism, our manpower, our military materiel turned back the tides.

When communism became entrenched in the Soviet Union, it was the United States that led the steadfast opposition. America worked through NATO, but there was no doubt that America was the senior partner. It was U.S. resolve to stand toe-to-toe, missile-to-missile with Russia that finally broke the Soviet Union’s power — and broke the Soviet Union.

Some saw the crumbling of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet hegemony as “the end of history” and dawning of a new millennium of peace and prosperity. Others warned that into the vacuum would rush, not another superpower, but rather a conglomeration of ethnic rivalries, stateless splinter groups, small wars, borderless conflicts.

And that’s exactly what’s happened. We saw the first iterations of this new geopolitical reality in the 1990s in such conflicts as Somalia and Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. And the United States responded with measured, incremental actions.

Then came Sept. 11, 2001. We were attacked, not by another country, but rather by a group of affiliated terrorists with outposts, as we later discovered, in some 60 nations. They used tactics never before encountered in war. They are, in fact, an entity never before encountered in war.

But make no mistake: This IS war. And all the old rules of nation-state fighting nation-state have gone out the window.

The United States may still be feeling its way through this new reality. We might be making mistakes from time to time.

But the bottom line — the solemn, shattering bottom line — is that we must fight. We have been given no choice, by an enemy that is determined to destroy us and everything we believe in.

The United States has long been the world’s standard-bearer of liberty. We have protected our own freedoms, fought to save democracy for others and battled to give liberty to those enslaved.

We must continue to do so. In order to survive, we must not only protect our own freedoms as always, but strive to extend them throughout the world.

We fight now as the world’s last remaining superpower. That position carries with it added responsibilities; it also makes us a heightened target for those who disagree with us.

In another era, it might be argued that either John Kerry or George Bush could adequately run this country. But today, the right leader is Mr. Bush. His solid commitment to liberty is undeniable. No one, including our enemies, can doubt his steadfast determination to save America and extend democracy to others.

Issues such as saving Social Security and improving health care are important.

But they will be moot if the United States is defeated in this war.

Hard choices must be made, including by voters. And George Bush is not afraid to take the hard steps necessary to fight a war that is unconventional in virtually every sense. His leadership has the best chance of preserving our great nation.

Again, emphasis is mine.

Some quick statistics. First, this endorsement is 605 words in length. Of those, only 120 words have anything to do with the current election — the opening 485 are just space-filling blather. Of those 120 words, 67 words — 5 sentences — actually speak to why the Progress is endorsing George Bush. Those reasons are:

  • He is committed to liberty.
  • He is determined to “save” and “preserve” the United States.
  • He believes in promoting democratic values globally.
  • The implication is, of course, that John Kerry is not committed to liberty, and that if he is elected, the United States will crumble while democracy recedes globally.

    This editorial is entirely about war, presenting America as a nation on the brink of extinction (“save America,” “preserving our great nation”), with important issues like “saving Social Security and improving health care” dismissed in a single sentence: “But they will be moot if the United States is defeated in this war.” Their willingness to editorialize on matters non-September 11-related in the past three years make clear that the Progress is well aware that there are other important issues in this world. Otherwise, they would write about September 11 seven days a week.

    This editorial is fear-mongering, plain and simple. The Progress, run by smart people, knows this.

    After their 2000 endorsement of Bush, the Progress knows that they cannot trust President Bush to fulfill his promises. Since yesterday’s endorsement makes no mention of their disappointment after their endorsement four years ago, it seems that their sense of accountability is as poor as President Bush’s.

    At a loss for how to explain this endorsement, I looked into Media General’s newspapers and their presidential endorsement pattern. With endorsements of Kerry leading endorsements of Bush by a huge margin of 5:3, it seems reasonable to expect that Media General’s 27 daily newspapers would have a similar split — perhaps 17 for Kerry and 10 for Bush. Upon comparing their publication list to Editor & Publisher’s endorsement list, I was surprised to find that not a single one of their newspapers had endorsed Kerry. Two of them, in fact, have refused to endorse any candidate: The Tampa Tribune and The Winston-Salem Journal. This refusal was widely noted and discussed among those who follows the media, as it demonstrates a highly-unusual reluctance on their part. Presumably, what’s going on here is that Media General is exercising their right as publisher to veto endorsements of Kerry. But why?

    All that I can come up with is Media General’s work in the past few years to get federal antitrust regulations overturned. Existing standards prevent companies from creating regional monopolies, placing caps on the number and percentage of various types of media outlets that a single company can own within a particular market. Media General doesn’t like these limitations — they have filed over 600 pages of documents demanding that media monopoly regulations be limited. They have not, notably, reported about this in any of their newspapers or on any of their television stations.

    Kerry would surely return to Clinton-era crackdowns on monopolies, whereas Bush has shut down just about every antitrust case that he inherited (Microsoft being a prime example), and would continue with policies that are very favorable to big business.

    Did the Progress endorse Bush as a naked power grab on the part of Media General? I surely don’t know enough to say. But given how illogical that their endorsement is, in light of the political leanings of Charlottesville and the failure of Bush to live up to their 2000 endorsement, the simpler explanations simply don’t stand to reason.

    The Progress recent endorsement pattern has demonstrated that, if nothing else, their editorial staff is out of touch with Charlottesville values and, in fact, reality, at least George Bush’s version of reality, circa 2000. If this continues, they run the risk of no longer being taken seriously by their readers. We need to be able to trust our daily paper to represent our interests and hold itself accountable for its past editorial errors. It’s getting increasingly difficult to do so with the Progress. If it is eventually found that Media General is their editorial puppetmaster, it won’t be surprising, but it will be disappointing. The Worrell days look better and better.

    21 thoughts on “Progress Endorses Bush: Why?”

    1. Bush Supporter: Well, bud, just don’t buy the paper! It’s is a free country.

      Concerned Citizen: But…

      Bush Supporter: Oh, stop being a pessimist! It’ll all work out, bud! Just lookyme: I’m gonna hunt me some meat tonite. When all is said and done, who gives a rat’s ass? [tosses his 50 cent beer can out of his 5,000 decibel rubba buhrnin’ TRAHK and screeches off]

    2. Sad. Both the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Lynchburg News-Advance ran Bush endorsements that at least sounded like the author believed in them. But the Progress doesn’t even rise to the tepidity of, say, the Washington Post‘s backing of Kerry, where you could see the we-wish-it-had-been-Lieberman sour grapes still fermenting in the editorial stomach. Instead it reads like the kind of endorsement you’d write if someone put a metaphorical gun to your head and said, “You know the routine. Write it.”

      Ah well. I’m in too good a mood tonight to be upset at the Progress any more. A lot of moderate Republicans are going to feel sheepish about their votes for Bush sooner or later, once the dust has settled, the insider stories and sealed documents start to emerge, and history begins reading its verdict on the Bush Administration in slow cadences. That’s assuming my optimism is justified and tomorrow sees a solid Kerry win; if Bush is returned to office, the crash that’s eventually going to come will be a lot more painful and “sheepish” will be an understatement. (I don’t know what kind of second-term fate could be worse than Nixon’s, but whatever that might be is what I expect a re-elected Bush would have in store.)

    3. Okay, I cracked… I voted for Kerry. No matter how pathetic I think the USA is today, and in dire need of a REVOLUTION, I justed couldn’t bare the thought of not at least TRYING to kick that redneck back to Crawford Texas. Even though in Virginia, supported by the 100% archaic and anti-democratic electoral college system, my vote probably won’t count. But hey, I tried.

    4. I didn’t vote, I can’t since I found out the post office decide to inform the voter office I moved 3 times in the last year.

      oh well!

    5. No surprise for you guys that i voted for Bush. I am not pleased with Bush’s performance but I couldn’t stomach John Kerry for a minute. If the Dems would have put up a decent candidate, they might have gotten my vote this year, believe it or not. And this is coming from a republican.

      In my opinion, John Kerry is a pitiful candidate and I don’t believe a word he says. But I am not singing a song for George either. I just felt that Bush was the lesser of two evils.

      Have a nice day.

    6. Waldo,

      I really wanted to believe that the majority of my fellow countrymen both cared about the shape of our democracy and had the native intelligence to judge the last four years and make the appropriate choice. Someone a couple of weeks ago on one of the political blogs used the phrase "the creeping Putinization of America," and it has been haunting me ever since. I’m sorry for all of those first-time voters to whom we promised that their vote would make a difference.

      It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a world that feels entirely alien to me.

    7. I was also displeased with past performance but then I am never fully satisfied with any of them.

      I had diffculty voting for Bush but the problem was solved when I listened and looked at Kerry and his Lady.

      As a pindit ( My spelling by choice) said this morning "make Kerry ambassador to France and keep Edwards around in case George wants to sue someone."

      Oh well, so much for the recent rant concerning the "cel phone" voters.

    8. i heard it was 1 out of 10 voters were in the 18-24 group. Too bad, I could have swear they all were going to vote for Kerry at least according to P. Diddy.

    9. I am not the type of guy who would jump around and say ‘in your face’. I will admit I was impress that Kerry didn’t drag this in the mud and prolong the results. I believe that Gore didn’t help when he did that in 2000.

      One of the things I am in favor and I think it would help our country greatly is changing the term limits of the president. I feel we should only one term but a longer term maybe 6 or 8 years. I believe the worst type of president is one who is worrying about getting reelected. I have noticed that Reagan and Clinton both did a lot better in their 2nd term. I guess when you don’t have to worry about stepping on people’s toes you tend to be more willing to put your policy in.

      I don’t know but i hope this election could bring us together instead of ripping us a part.

      And in other news, Mexican border partol has arrested famed movie maker Micheal Moore. The film maker was caught trying to cross the broder into Mexico. This is the first arrest of a american citzen trying to sneak into Mexico in 20 years.

    10. You’re right: Kerry, his brilliant wife and lovely daughter fly WAY over the rest of inbred America.

    11. Sympatico –

      My remarks didn`t sink as low as your "rest of inbred America" – but now I must say, in rebuttal, it is obvious to me you are intimately acquainted with "inbreeding".

    12. The so-called "unemployment crisis" will end with all the jobs opening up to provide moving assistance to all the high profile liberals who threatened to "Leave the country if Bush is reelected" – Now that is the attitude of a true American.

    13. Am I intimately acquainted with inbreeding, as you say? Well, duh! Over 1/2 of Americans are not only intellectually deficient, but because they are in charge of the asylum, are PROUD to be mindless. What a potent cocktail!!!

      I felt it was better for America to swallow its pill and have another 4 years (at least, you watch) of Bush. But then I got sentimental and recalled some of Americas true glory, and voted and hoped for a Kerry win. Nope, America is about to push its own button of destruction.

      So, the question is not whether I am familiar with the decadence of inbreeding which is not only a human reproductive dysfunction, but more so an allusion to dysfunctional thinking, but how can I avoid witnessing it EVERYWHERE in America today. Particularly in the South and all over the Middle parts on our land.

    14. you know what is funny is that I am not an anti-Kerry or Bush-supporter. I am/was a anti-Kerry supporters. I didn’t like the people who supported Kerry. I didn’t mind Kerry even though I thought he wouldn’t make a good president. I didn’t like the attitude of the people who was behind. They all but not most have thise ‘we know what is best for you attitude’. And after the elections, all I see are these ‘well I guess the inbreds voted for Bush’ or ‘the uneducated or dumb people voted Bush back in’. Who made you all high and mighty?

      Like I said before, Kerry didn’t pull a Gore and demand a recount only on a few counties to even anger the masses. Good for Kerry. But you people will have to move on. Bush will be our president for the next 4 years. If you don’t like, then I am sure Canada will be happy with more tax dollars.

    15. no, I know perfectrly well WHY Bush was elected and then reelected. we are in a cultural war between, notr between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, but between the ignorant and the educated, between the intelligent and the stupid.

      the absolute foremost reason i am reading and hearing everywhere post-elections is that Americans didn’t like Kerry and his wife, becuase "they ain’t like us’, or that they didn’t want that "fat Mr. Michael Moore gloating" (from another forum), or Cornelius, otherwise apparently well-educated (which does not necessarily impart smarts) disliking Kerry’s wife, becuase what again, she’s "FORNER"?

      btw, those of you GOP sheep that think Bush is a good American Prez because he TAWKS LIKE YEUW, are dead wrong: he’s a redneck with money and raised with money, you’ll never have any.

    16. "or Cornelius, otherwise apparently well-educated (which does not necessarily impart smarts) disliking Kerry’s wife, becuase what again, she’s "FORNER"? "

      C`mon Sympatico – You are misquoting or conjuring things from the air – I never said I disliked Kerry`s wife because she was, as you put it, " a Forner".

      What I did say was I heard and saw both and did not like what I saw and heard.What I did not like about Kerry was his non-existent record in the Senate, his war-experienced-based campaign (give me a break), and I suppose, as far as the electorate goes, his very poor campaign – he may or may not have some good ideas but he certainly did not express them very well.

      As far as Bush`s manner of speaking is concerned, it is foreign to me, but I learned long ago not to pre-judge a person by that trait.I don`t form opinions of capability based upon a regional accent. If I did I would have no respect for any Virginian after I heard them pronounce "about". I don`t think you truly mean that anyway. Lighten up, please.

      I also think Bush did not live up to the standards of performance I expected but I heard little from Kerry except denigration of Bush. I think many voters were turned off by that. I agree with any probable rebuttal Bush was also rather sharp in his comments about Kerry but I think to a much lesser extent.

      My choice was dictated by the lesser of two "not so great" choices.

      Now as far as my "smarts" go, you may or may not be correct, I`ll leave that to my associates.I will say my opinion of your acumen has suffered somewhat during these recent exchanges.

      I am in sympathy with anyone, however, who seems to agonize over things they can`t control. If I have in any way contributed to your discomfort, I regret it.

      I think in this case you may well agonize over a poor campaign (or at least one which could have benefited by clarity of platform) by the democratic candidate. As an aside – What was the democratic platform? I can recall when platforms were hammered out in full view of the voters, at least at some point, which I believe was a very good part of the conventions.That goes for the Republicans too but usually the incumbent`s platform is known. That seems to have gone by the wayside. I think I heard someone say why but I forget what it was.

      I think I will not respond to any future posts about the election. It is futile – but then again I don`t know the goals.

    17. Ive said it once and I will say it again Bush won and im pissed… The people who voted for him have to live with their decesion for the rest of their lives… They have to remember when we are going into Iran, North Korea, or Sudan OR maybe all three Im sure you god fearing i hate abortionist but love the death penalty and war people will love that… three wars at the sametime and maybe if you’re lucky WMDs may show up!

      So you didnt like Kerry supporters because we are arrogant and called Bush supporters stupid and dumb what does this remind me of? A 4 year old crying "WAHHHH mommy they called me a name!" Ha ha pathetic, the thing is you only reinforced the notion that the electorate is uninformed… maybe we should have a poll test to make sure people know things… You know 75% of Bush supporters thought we found WMDs in Iraq and that there was a definitive link between Saddam and Al Queda but thats not dumb or ignorant…

      God help us…. If the draft starts I damn sure hope they start in the red states first, take all his supporters first..

      ha ha I have to say it again "Wahhhh Kerry supporters called me dumb wahhh im not voting for kerry anymore…." ha ha look at this

    18. I forgot two things—-One: iamdaman keeps talking about Gore ordering a recount and how horrible that was… fact is every single private bipartisan study has shown that if the state was recounted Gore won the election so he was right to speculate and demand answers… and for the last time HE DIDNT LOSE he won the peoples vote just like Bush did this year… he just got screwed by Bush’s daddys supreme court appointed judges one of which had a wife working on the bush campaign *cough* Clarence Thomas the deciding signature…..

      Two: to you guys with your luke warm feeling about Bush eventhough you voted for him… you also made him the most powerful president since FDR with teh republican majority in ALL major branches of government… hope you guys are proud!

    19. You make a good point about the strength of the endorsement, David. A significant part of what bothers me is not that the Progress endorsed Bush (it’s a matter on which intelligent minds may disagree, or so I tell myself), but that they did so in a manner significantly less than half-heartedly; one-tenth-heartedly, perhaps. They could easily have offered a spirited defense of Bush and described the various qualities about him that some intelligent analysts cite when supporting him.

      But they didn’t. Instead, they coughed up this editorial. The most ringing endorsement of Bush that they could offer was "we’re all going to die at the hands of evil terrorists and America will crumble…but it’s less likely with this guy…maybe."

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