The Times Endorses …

a guy from Illinois. You were expecting what? A surprise?

The Gray Lady’s endorsement editorial begins:

“Hyperbole is the currency of presidential campaigns, but this year the nation’s future truly hangs in the balance.

“The United States is battered and drifting after eight years of President Bush’s failed leadership. He is saddling his successor with two wars, a scarred global image and a government systematically stripped of its ability to protect and help its citizens — whether they are fleeing a hurricane’s floodwaters, searching for affordable health care or struggling to hold on to their homes, jobs, savings and pensions in the midst of a financial crisis that was foretold and preventable.”

It’s amazing the nation produced anyone who wants the job.

Online, the Times offers an entertaining adjunct to its Obama endorsement: A gallery of all the endorsements it has made since 1860, when it backed another Illinoisan (the taller of the pair in the race that year). The gallery bravely includes some of the reasoning that went into the endorsements. The rationales range from wildly misplaced hopes to something that approaches prescience.

In the first category, here’s how the Times led off its argument for the re-election of U.S. Grant (over Democrat Horace Greeley) in 1872:

“Greeley’s election would mean the unsettling of business all over the country.–Gen. Grant’s would instantly lead to the recovery of trade from the excitement of a Presidential election, and insure the continued prosperity of the entire Union.”

How did Grant’s era of prosperity pan out? See Panic of 1873.

And then there’s the second category, when the editorialists seemed to be pretty well tuned in to the choice of candidates and their potential impact on the future. Here’s part of what they said to back their endorsement of the eventual popular-vote winner in 2000:

“This is … the first presidential campaign in recent history centered on an argument over how best to use real, bird-in-the-hand resources to address age-old domestic problems while also defining the United States’ role in a world evermore dependent on it for farsighted international leadership. …”

“…Mr. Bush’s entire economic program is built on a stunning combination of social inequity and flawed economic theory. He would spend more than half the $2.2 trillion non-Social Security surplus on a tax cut at a time when the economy does not need that stimulus. Moreover … more than 40 percent of the money would go to the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers. … There is nothing compassionate or conservative about blowing the surplus on windfalls for the wealthy instead of investing it in fair tax relief and well-designed social programs.”

It’s worth going back and reading the rest of that one to revisit the days when Bush could be characterized outside a comedy sketch as “the most moderate Republican nominee in a generation.”

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