Monday, August 06, 2012

The Fleeting Pleasure of Republican Primary Endorsements

For Republicans in Connecticut, editorial endorsements from many papers – but most especially from the Hartford Courant – provide a momentary, fleeting pleasure.

In primaries, the Courant does tend to endorse some non-incumbents. But in general elections, the paper’s endorsements tend to favor incumbents who have, unsurprisingly, more practical experience in the contested office.

For the most part then, incumbents have an insuperable advantage over challengers seeking the endorsement of the paper’s editorial writers and administrators. Whether this arrangement is pragmatic or not depends, to borrow phraseology from former President Bill Clinton, on what you mean by “pragmatic.”

The dark side of pragmatism is opportunism, a cold, sportsman like estimate of political possibilities.

When St. Thomas More accuses Thomas Cromwell of being a pragmatist in Robert Bolt’s play “A Man for All Seasons” he intends no compliment.

“ALICE: They say he's [Cromwell] a very penetrating lawyer.
“MORE: What, Cromwell? Pooh, he's a pragmatist-and that's the only resemblance he has to the Devil, son Roper; a pragmatist, the merest plumber.”
Need it be said that in the contest between Cromwell and the saint, it was the saint who lost his head.

The Courant’s charge in its editorial that Republican Party endorsed candidate for the U.S. House in the (2nd District) Paul Formica should prevail over Ms. Novack in the upcoming Republican Primary is, therefore, a mixed blessing. Mr. Formica will not likely hold on to the Courant6’s endorsement through the general election, if past endorsements are any guide to the future.

In the past, the Courant has been in the habit of endorsing the leftmost incumbent candidate in general elections. As most Republicans have caught conservative sniffles over the years, and as most moderate Republican in the New England states have been dished by leftward leaning Democrats – there are no Republicans any longer in Connecticut’s Congressional delegation –the paper’s endorsement of 2nd District contenders in the general election is likely to fall to present U.S. Representative Joe Courtney.

Apparently, the paper feels that one party states – think of Henry VIII – are more pragmatic than vigorous two party states.

Conservative Republicans in the 2nd District are now congratulating Ms. Novak on her Courant non-endorsement.

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