(Steve Sebelius/Slash Politics) – You might be wondering: What would make a libertarian newspaper endorse a candidate who once said publicly she’d like alcohol to be banned the same way marijuana is? It’s not a bad question.
What would make a libertarian newspaper — one that prides itself on philosophical consistency and a healthy distrust of government interventions — endorse a woman who says abortion is not appropriate even in cases of rape, incense or incest rape?
What would make a libertarian newspaper — one that is decidedly outside the philosophy of the religious right — back a woman who claims God called her to run for office, and who apparently believes social programs need to be curtailed so they don’t lead Americans into idolatry?
The answer: A thoroughgoing hatred of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his policies.
Most of today’s Review-Journal editorial endorsing Sharron Angle is given over to criticism of Reid, his support of President Barack Obama‘s economic agenda and the oft-repeated allegation that Reid has somehow lost touch with his Nevada roots and become a creature of Washington, D.C. That’s understandable, given Angle’s more outlandish statements, and the R-J‘s tendency to ignore inconvenient facts when endorsing a questionable candidate.
But the R-J praises Angle for having the right views on government (small), taxes (low) and regulation (gelded, to the extent possible). “In fact, Ms. Angle is well within the mainstream on most issues and embraces a political philosophy popular with millions of Americans who are making themselves heard this election cycle,” the R-J writes. To the extent that Angle mouths the views that comport with the R-J‘s philosophy, the endorsement is to be expected.
In reality, however, this editorial — and those that will follow — are the capstone on a yearslong campaign by the R-J to rid the state of Reid, its senator for a quarter-century. The R-J — from front page to the classifieds and everything in between — is all in to defeating Reid, and a candidate’s decidedly un-libertarian quirkiness is no reason to shrink from battle now, or so the paper seems to have reasoned.
During the primary election, the R-J campaigned hard for businesswoman Sue Lowden, defending her from attacks, profiling her glowingly yet refraining from endorsing her when it appeared her campaign’s shortcomings could not be overcome. Even today, as questions about Angle swirl, one cannot avoid the impression that the newspaper’s conservative leadership would have preferred Lowden to Angle (and they are not alone!).
But, having been saddled by Republican primary voters with a candidate that the non-Reid hating world justifiably views as out of the mainstream, the R-J today simply did what Angle advises women who’ve been raped by a family member: Take a lemon situation and made lemonade.
UPDATE: As my friend Dayvid Figler noted on Twitter moments ago, the Review-Journal in 2004 gave Reid a grudging endorsement over social and fiscal conservative Richard Ziser. Among the newspaper’s reasons: Reid’s Washington, D.C. clout in getting things done, including preserving Sloan Canyon petroglyphs, weighing in on western water wars and legislation related to public lands. Surely, Reid’s clout has only increased since those words were written (he was only minority whip at the time, and he’s the majority leader now)? And thus the argument would be ever more persuasive today than it was back then?