Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Two unsurprising endorsements

In two completely unsurprising moves, the Evansville Courier and Press endorsed Brad Ellsworth and the Bloomington Herald-Times endorsed Baron Hill.

It is telling that the H-T endorsed a Congressional candidate this year when they normally do not. While I have no problem with a newspaper endorsing candidates the unethical behavior the H-T has displayed in covering this race made it obvious who the newspaper was supporting.

When Kurt Van der Dussen made an error in not verifying a claim made by a source regarding events at a County Council meeting, the H-T basically reduced him to a copyboy. When Mike Leonard fabricated a vote by Mike Sodrel, nothing was done other than a "correction" buried in the Saturday paper that was dishonest about what Leonard actually wrote. If Van der Dussen can be demoted for what he did, it would be more than justifiable to terminate Leonard for his intentional fabrication.

Leonard also lied two years ago about a vote by Congressman John Hostettler against the Federal Marriage Amendment, and Steve Hinnefeld repeated the lie earlier this year. Both men attempted to send the message that Hostettler opposed banning marriage at the federal level, while the truth is that Hostettler thought the ban had too many loopholes.

The editor of the Herald-Times, Bob Zaltsberg, broke his own policy against printing letters to the editor that make unverified claims against candidates on more than one occasion when the letters were attacking Mike Sodrel.

If the H-T wants to endorse Baron Hill, that is fine, but that endorsement should be confined to the editorial page. Lies, brazen fabrications and breaking the newspaper's long-standing policy should not part of that endorsement.

Down in Evansville, the Courier and Press has had an obvious grudge against John Hostettler for years, so it is no surprise that they endorsed his opponent.

The Courier's complaint against Hostettler basically boils down to this: John Hostettler is a man who stands by his principles and is not afraid of facing political repercussions for doing so. The Courier complains that Hostettler did not "grow into a representative who would openly embrace the diversity of thought and people one finds in any congressional district" over the last 12 years.

Imagine that! A politician who is not afraid of controversy and does not abandon his principles for political convenience. Perhaps Hostettler should be more like Baron Hill, who abandoned his pro-life stance shortly before he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1990. I have a little secret for the Courier: John Hostettler's courage in standing up for what he believes is the primary reason voters have re-elected him five times.

The Courier tries to put its head in the sand and pretend that the Eighth District race is about Hostettler and Ellsworth, not whether Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker. Yes, it is about Hostettler and Ellsworth, but it is either dishonest or na´ve to pretend that control of the House does not matter. It matters quite a bit who controls the Speakership and committe chairmanships, because that decides what bills get an easy path and which ones have to overcome multiple roadblocks or are shelved entirely. That is true both at the state level and at the federal level.

The Courier faults Hostettler for voting against a proposal to increase the minimum wage. There are many good arguments for opposing such an increase, from federalism and limited government concerns to questions about whether the minimum wage actually does more economic harm than good. Simply ignoring these concerns and whining about how "low" the minimum wage is does not make for a good argument.

The Courier unintentionally endorses Hostettler by praising a statement by Ellsworth that we can solve problems "if we go after principle and not power." That "radical and refreshing" viewpoint personifies John Hostettler, and he deserves another two years.