Submitted in response to the Plain Dealer's October 22, 2000 endorsement of George W. Bush
October 22, 2000
I am greatly disturbed by the October 22, 2000 endorsement of Gov. George W. Bush for president. While I do not agree with your editors’ choice, it is was not the selection of Gov. Bush that troubled me. Reasonable people can and often do disagree over issues and can intelligently discuss and debate these differences. It was the reason given for the endorsement and the lack of substantiation for this argument that I find frightening.
In five paragraphs early in the article, your editorial stated, “Bush possesses a quality his opponent, Al Gore cannot claim: authenticity…This straight-talking Texan brings a promise of political and ethical constancy that Gore simply cannot match….As governor, Bush has established his ability to work with Democrats to better the lives of less-fortunate Texans, young and old. In doing so, he has shown that he keeps his word… ”
Because of the length of the piece, I expected to read examples of Gov. Bush’s “straight-talking,” “ability to work with Democrats,” and “keep[ing] his word.” However, the following six paragraphs (well over half of the entire piece) were spent arguing against Vice President Gore. If the choice is as clear as the subhead states, then why do you find it necessary to endorse Gov. Bush through attrition rather than by merit?
Following three weeks of presidential debates, I expected to read a detailed analysis of issues and accomplishments in a major newspaper’s endorsement. Instead, I found the unsubstantiated judgment that Bush is a “plain-speaking, straight-from-the shoulder Texan.” During the October 17 debate, the “straight-talking” Gov. Bush claimed that he “brought Republicans and Democrats together to do just that in the state of Texas to get a patients' bill of rights through.” Yet, Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal and Margaret Carlson of Time Magazine have pointed out that Gov. Bush vetoed this HMO bill and still later, when it was sent back to his desk with a veto-proof majority, he never signed it. Gov. Bush accused Vice President Gore of “soft bigotry” in his education proposals only to say later in the debate that he supports affirmative action only in the terms he defines “affirmative access.” Where is the mention in his support of “school choice” that the amount a “less-fortunate” family could receive in a voucher program would only pay a fraction of a private school’s tuition or that the private school of that family’s “choice” can refuse admission for religious, geographic, or almost any arbitrary reason? How can your newspaper in good conscience call a man “a conciliator, a convener” when he shamelessly calls his opponent a bigot for not abandoning the schools that 90% of American children attend?
I find it extremely discouraging that your newspaper appears incapable of presenting a better argument for its endorsed presidential candidate than “we trust him simply because he is not Al Gore.”
Milton Alan Turner