Sunday, January 18, 2009

PD says goodbye to Bush

I roll my eyes when someone says the Plain Dealer is "too liberal," but I also roll 'em when someone says it's "too conservative." Do angry PD-hating liberals read the paper? Connie Schultz? Dick Feagler, after the Iraq invasion? Elizabeth Sullivan, before and since the invasion?

Or the editorial page, whose horror over the Bush Administration grew and grew?

Today the page does its final penance for endorsing George W. Bush in 2000. It's hardly the angriest or most damning denunciation of him. (This is what it sounds like when a newspaper does that.) It starts off as a spurned love's "thought I knew you" lament. "We liked his talk about humility and compassion," it says.

That's an allusion to Bush's "compassionate conservative" slogan and his famous line in the second Bush-Gore debate about the rest of the world -- "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us." I watched that debate too, and I remember thinking the line sounded insincere. I guess the PD believed him.

But the editorial really gets going in its second half. I'll just quote some key words it attaches to Bush: squandered, ignored, surrendered, degradation, disdain, squandering (again), refusal. Read it and you see why the PD endorsed Obama, and how the Bush era led the editorial page from center-right in 2000 to center-left today.

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