Fittingly enough, I’m of two minds about the New York Times’ controversial “we’re of two minds” endorsement editorial.
After conducting extensive interviews with the leading Democratic presidential contenders in advance of the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses, the newspaper’s editorial board on Sunday night gave its nod to both Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Critics pounced. C’mon, Times! Yanny or Laurel? Paper or plastic? Chiefs or 49ers? Boxers or briefs? Marvel or DC? Tastes great or less filling? Take a stand already!
I took the point. The failure to choose and defend one candidate over all others felt like a betrayal of the board’s mission to make definitive pronouncements on the important issues of the day based on the values it has long espoused.
And the anointing of two candidates — Warren from what the editorial referred to as the Democrats’ “radical” faction and Klobuchar from the “realist” faction — had a whiff of cowardice, as if the Times didn’t want to offend either side in this intraparty battle for the nomination.
On the other hand, the 3,432-word editorial did effectively identify, analyze and referee the two distinct tournament brackets in the Democratic field, brackets that amount to separate primary-like battles for the coveted “tickets out of Iowa.”
The candidates who win, do well enough or sufficiently exceed expectations among the progressive and moderate wings of the party will earn viability in the New Hampshire primary eight days later.
It’s common for newspaper editorial boards to offer endorsements in both Democratic and Republican primary races for the same office. And given the split in the 2020 Democratic field in Iowa between the left and the center, the Times’ decision to endorse one from each makes a certain amount of sense at this point in the contest.
If you’re a committed lefty, the editorial makes the case that you should be favoring Warren over Sen. Bernie Sanders.
If you consider yourself a moderate Democrat, the editorial argues that Klobuchar is preferable to former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others.
One passage in the editorial sums up just about every conversation I’ve had with my fellow dithering Democrats in the last few months: “If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it.”
I see this as at once profoundly equivocal and unequivocally profound.
It’s a conflicted editorial for a conflicted moment in time. Real endorsement to follow.