During his illustrious and unfortunately short-lived political career, Jack Kennedy remarked that &quot;Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed—and no republic can survive.&quot; In the waning 72 hours of the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama’s decision to eject from his campaign plane reporters from three newspapers which failed to endorse him is chilling similar to the types of dissent-squashing that George W. Bush has long been accused of throughout his presidency.
With only hours remaining until polling places open, the Obama campaign announced Friday that reporters from the Washington Times, New York Post, and Dallas Morning News had until Sunday to clear out of the campaign aircraft, eliminating access to the candidate and the campaign team in the crucial, final days in which their readers will surely look to the papers for critical stories about the candidate before casting their ballots.
Down in the polls, lacking funds, and watching his running mate’s approval ratings sink like a stone, John McCain is hoping to pull off a Brett Favre-like comeback on Tuesday. Perennial candidate Ralph Nader, Ron Paul-approved Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, and Libertarian Bob Barr are all clamoring for votes to show their credibility and the legitimacy of the third party movement in America. Obama’s tactics of dumping journalists from dissenting broadsheets smacks of pure Bush-Cheneyism and should cause undecided voters and those leaning towards Obama to reconsider the alternatives.
Could this action be a precursor to the type of behavior America will see from an Obama presidency?
In their endorsement of Senator McCain on September 8, 2008, the New York Post elected to heap praise upon Obama despite their decision to support his rival. The proof is in the pudding:
&quot;None of this implies an iota of disrespect toward Obama. It took a formidable candidacy to defeat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton – a candidacy, by the way, which we strongly supported earlier this year.
And the intelligence, the organizational skills and the ability to communicate that Obama demonstrated from the beginning dramatically underscore the history that is being made by the first African-American to head a major-party presidential ticket.
He should be around for a long time, and we hope that he is.&quot;
This is hardly the toxic language one would expect to cause ejection from the campaign plane. In fact, my reaction in reading this endorsement when it was first released was that the conservative Post went much further than expected in praising the liberal Senator from Illinois. Thanks to the dissenting voices from editorial page writers against Obama, the writers for these three important newspapers are being punished. Does the Obama campaign not realize that an editorial board’s decision to endorse one candidate over another does not always reflect the views of the readers or the individual news writers?
In an outstanding address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on January 17, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge said that &quot;my ultimate faith I would place in the high idealism of the editorial room of the American newspaper.&quot; It’s unfortunate that presidential hopeful Obama and his campaign is showing a lack of respect for the opinions of the editorial rooms of which Coolidge spoke, not to mention to readers who are free to choose whether to accept or ignore the advice of such endorsement editorials.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to continue giving scoops to the writers at these publications and hope that the merits of Obama’s candidacy will permeate through to the voters who read these particular papers each day prior to the election? Instead, three significant, well-read newspapers—one of which is prevalent in the swing state of Virginia—will be hard-pressed to report &quot;good&quot; news about the Obama candidacy since they have been bumped for reporters from more favorable papers.
More confounding is the idea of the &quot;change&quot; candidate resorting to tactics generally associated with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who have been accused for the past eight years of attempting to put the kibosh on dissent through limiting press availability, spreading of misinformation, paying off pundits, funneling information only through certain &quot;approved&quot; media outlets, spouting government propaganda in place of news, and declaring the press to be enemy number one.
This alarming incident is the most recent evidence of an Obama/Bush confluence that I first reported on in my July 9, 2008 column. Obama’s decision this summer to reverse his position and support the Bush Administration’s FISA expansions, flip-flop on the issue of renegotiating failed trade agreements like NAFTA, switch from Iraq War opponent to supporter of the status quo, and offer support for violating the sovereign borders of other nations such as Pakistan are all signs of a third Bush term no matter which major party candidate wins. However, the Obama-led &quot;third Bush term&quot; will further advance the march of economic socialism and governmental authority that would make even FDR, Truman, and LBJ grin.
&quot;We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it,&quot; said Edward R. Murrow. No doubt Murrow would be disappointed to see his descendents in the journalism profession put to the loyalty test for a seat on Air Obama. At least the voters still have time to take a look at the alternatives—Barr, Nader, McCain, and Baldwin— before they make a seriously flawed vote for Obama’s version of Bush Lite on Tuesday.
Nathan Shrader can be reached at [email protected]