Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Memo From the Political Editor

Posted on Columbia Journalism Review (, 4/25/11

To: All Hands
From: The Political Editor
Re: Decision 2012 – Our Election Coverage

It seems like only yesterday that we (thought Gov. Sarah Palin was a breath of fresh North Slope air; wondered whom John Edwards of North Carolina might pick as a running mate; believed that then Sen. Barack Obama was serious about closing down Guantanamo).

In 2008 we (tumbled for John McCain’s “maverick” shtick; asked our readers to take a serious look at the candidacy of former GOP Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson; believed everything told to us by any man in a U.S. military uniform).

Over the long campaign we (identified Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico as a “sleeper” candidate; offered readers a 4,500-word Sunday magazine piece on Arkansan Mike Huckabee’s campaign staff; found then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s confrontational political style not to our liking).

Since President Obama took office, we have (slammed the TARP program until we noticed that it worked; trimmed our Washington bureau by 50 percent; hired several old George W. Bush speechwriters as columnists).

From our editorial perch atop a gasping industry, we believe that the president has not yet reached out to those who (paint Hitler mustaches on his picture; liken him to a chimp; question his ancestry, his patriotism, and his wife’s eating habits).

Truth to tell, we have been disappointed that the president has not (engaged in a public spat with Secretary of State Clinton; been more transformational and post-partisan; aggressively addressed the mounting national debt we ignored entirely in the 2008 campaign).

Nor has he satisfied our profound desire to see him extend a bipartisan hand to those new members of Congress who (use House offices as free dormitories while making $174,000 a year; defund NPR in “emergency” session; fail to understand that, yes, they do receive government health care).

We passionately believe in (having an ‘adult conversation’; a group of jowly white male senators we can comfortably call “the Gang of Six;” Standard & Poor’s).

Some of you in the newsroom have taken issue with our early 2012 campaign efforts. And, in retrospect, perhaps we should have taken a second look at (‘Dr. Jill Biden – Threat or Menace;” “The Wit and Wisdom of Eric Cantor;” “Rep. Paul Ryan – Bound for Mount Rushmore?”).

But as we approach the next presidential election cycle, we are excited about some innovative changes we’ve made in our coverage.

Our readers can expect to see (an array of splenetic blogs launched from every dreary, wrong-headed corner of the political universe; ongoing editorial page chin-pulling about “younger voters;” utter predictability from our talented roster of thought-provoking columnists).

We can be trusted to (ape whatever Politico thinks it’s doing; use what’s left of the wire services to cover those pesky primaries and straw polls; keep posting hauntingly familiar op-eds by Paul Begala, Michael Barone, Robert Reich, and Frank Luntz).

In the coming campaign, we pledge (to focus on the issues, not the personalities; to work diligently to stir up a primary challenge by Hillary Clinton; to keep writing and writing about Donald Trump while trashing him on the editorial page).

We can do no less. As a society we must (constantly change our view of the most pressing issue we are pretending to address; not leave a crushing burden of debt on our children and our children’s children; continue to write blank checks for three (3) wars).

See you on the (virtual) trail!