Des Moines Register Endorses A Republican For The First Time Since…Nixon

In a surprise move – with a curious pre-decision timeline and front page photos clearly chosen to manipulate perspective – the traditionally Democratic-leaning Des Moines Register has chosen to endorse Mitt Romney. Citing “partisan gridlock” as one of the biggest obstacles for either candidate, they make the point as a criticism of President Obama:

Early in his administration, President Obama reached out to Republicans but was rebuffed. Since then, he has abandoned the effort, and the partisan divide has hardened. That has hampered not only the economy, but the entire country. We remain a nation of red states and blue states.

Oddly, they leave out any mention of the infamous declaration made by Mitch McConnell two years into Obama’s administration: “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” (see following video:)

They also omit to mention the fact that McConnell’s obstructionist statement netted actual results, leading to a Congress that is “more dysfunctional than it has been since the Civil War,” as stated by Congressional scholars Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein in their book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks – How The American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics Of Extremism. From their interview with NPR Books:

Mann and Ornstein posit that democracy in America is being endangered by extreme politics. From the first day of the Obama administration, Ornstein says, our constitutional system hasn’t been allowed to work. “When we did get action, half the political process viewed it as illegitimate, tried to undermine its implementation and moved to repeal it,” Ornstein says.

“One of the two major parties, the Republican Party, has become an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

A damning assessment of the GOP that makes it all the more confounding that the editors of the Des Moines Register use the argument of “partisan obstruction,” a GOP-engendered state of Congressional affairs, as a reason to endorse a Republican and reject the Democrat who they stymied at every opportunity. Instead, Register editors double-down on their critique of the President:

Barack Obama rocketed to the presidency from relative obscurity with a theme of hope and change. A different reality has marked his presidency. His record on the economy the past four years does not suggest he would lead in the direction the nation must go in the next four years.

Many would argue the opposite; compiled statistics and verified documentation are available to support that counterpoint. The following graphs are just two examples of how the President’s “reality” has taken the devastated economy he inherited from the Bush Administration in exactly “the direction the nation must go in the next four years”:

This from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Private Sector Job Growth under Obama:

And this from Bloomberg Government regarding Stock Investment trajectories showing significant uptick under Obama.

Given this documentation – and the volumes more that is available – of information that clearly contradicts the paper’s reasoning, what’s the logic behind the Register’s endorsement of Romney?

Keep in mind this was the same paper that engaged in a somewhat bizarre timeline drama with the President in the days leading up to their Romney endorsement. It seems initially the endorsement interview with President Obama was to be “off the record” per a request from the White House, which Register editors begrudgingly agreed to. However, shortly after that interview on Tuesday, October 23rdRegister editor, Rick Green, wrote a blog criticizing this decision:

Just two weeks before Election Day, the discussion, I believe, would have been valuable to all voters, but especially those in Iowa and around the country who have yet to decide between the incumbent Democrat and his Republican opponent. Unfortunately, what we discussed was off-the-record. It was a condition, we were told, set by the White House.

Green goes on to say:

What the President shared with us this morning — and the manner, depth and quality of his presentation – would have been well-received by not only his base, but also undecideds. From a voter standpoint, keeping it off-the-record was a disservice.

It’s important that I emphasize the White House’s decision won’t play a factor in our board’s final endorsement decision. That would be petty and ridiculous. We take far too seriously what’s at stake this election and what our endorsement should say.

Following the publication of that blog, in clear response to Green’s criticism and, presumably, with the intention to counter his implication of a lack of transparency, campaign officials for the President released the transcript of the endorsement interview the next day. It can be read in its entirety here.

Two days later, on Friday, October 28th, and despite Green’s assessment that “what the President shared with us this morning — and the manner, depth and quality of his presentation – would have been well-received by not only his base, but also undecideds,” the Register endorsed Romney, the first Republican the paper has endorsed since Richard Nixon. We all know how well that turned out.

Is it “petty and ridiculous” to believe Editor Rick Green’s pique at the White House’s request for privacy did not play into their decision, as he asserts? That will be up to each reader to decide. Considering the chain of events leading up to Friday’s endorsement, suspicions are stirred.

Given the facts of the Obama presidency, versus the paper’s criticisms in contradiction to those facts, it’s difficult to conjure a logical answer that dismisses the notion entirely.

Follow Lorraine Devon Wilke on TwitterFacebook and Rock+Paper+Music; for details and links to her other work, visit To access her archive at Addicting Info click here.