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How To Read Courant Endorsements

This is what comes of moderate thinking: It has become impossible to decipher the principles that animate Hartford Courant endorsements.

Colin McEnroe, leaker to the Blogs and also a writer for the Courant, noted on his own blog, with some dismay, that the Courant the next day intended to endorse Sen. Joe Lieberman. McEnroe also noted that the paper, surprisingly, intended to endorse New Haven Mayor John DeStefano for governor. The dawning sun on Sunday showed that McEnroe was right on both counts.

Cynics are certain to observe that the Courant’s DeStefano editorial plug is a throw-away endorsement, since DeStefano trails Governor Jodi Rell in the polls by what seems to be an unsurpassable lead, while the Lieberman endorsement is more significant. Lieberman and Ned Lamont have been nick and tuck since the opening gun in their jihad was fired by ex-governor and senator Lowell Weicker.

The question inevitably arises: What principle or principles dictate the Courant’s selections, or are their selections made with a Ouija board?

Principles – if they are principles at all – cannot be selectively applied. For instance, if my operative principle is “Throw the bums out,” a perfectly respectable modus operandi, I cannot ask others to apply the principle while sparing my bums.

If I say, as the Courant did in an earlier endorsement – “Look, a balance between the two parties is necessary in democracies; therefore we are endorsing all Connecticut Democrats vying for the U.S. House of Representatives, so that a healthy competition among the parties may reinvigorate our democracy in the U.S. Congress” -- I have laid down a principle that should apply in every instance in which governments are seemingly drifting towards a one party state.

The Courant’s principle, in other words, obliges it to seek to overturn the hateful one party state wherever it raises its horned head -- and for the same reason.

There is, however, a problem in applying the principle non-selectively: The Courant’s principle, consistently applied, would require the paper to endorse every Republican vying for the state legislature, which is dominated by Democrats. The Democrats in the state legislature are two votes shy of a majority that would be able to overturn a Republican governor’s veto.

Surprisingly, the Courant has chosen to address this issue editorially by urging voters to cast out Republican Governor Jodi Rell in favor of New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, the Big Idea candidate. In fact, DeStefano’s biggest ideas have been borrowed from the Courant’s editorial playbook.

So much for the principle stated above that governed the paper’s Connecticut congressional delegation choices: The Courant’s principles apparently are never to be applied to the Courant’s bums, a solid priciple once advanced and sturdily defended by turn of the century Tammany Hall boss George Washington Plukitt.

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