Caroline Goldstein
January 21, 2020 11:10 am
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

In keeping with the current unconventional political landscape (to put it mildly), the New York Times just made an unconventional move. After spending “more than a dozen hours talking to candidates,” the paper endorsed two separate candidates for president, both of whom are women: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar.

The Times’ editorial board announced their endorsement on Sunday, January 19th, saying that Warren and Klobuchar “are the Democrats best equipped to lead [the primaries].” The board explained that their unusual choice to endorse two candidates—when, as we really don’t need to tell you, only one person can actually be elected to run against Trump—is the result of the unprecedented division both within the Democratic party itself and across party lines.

There are “three models for how to govern this country, not two,” the Times says. The first, led by Donald Trump, promotes “white nativism at home and America First unilateralism abroad” and is defined by “brazen corruption.” The Democrats are divided by two visions, which can roughly be defined as “realists” and “radicals.” The first “view President Trump as an aberration and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible.” The second “believe that President Trump was the product of political and economic systems so rotten that they must be replaced.”

Ultimately, the Times said, “both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration,” so the board chose to back “the most effective advocates for each approach”—Senator Warren and Senator Klobuchar, respectively.

Among other accolades, the Times noted Senator Warren’s “[commitment] to reforming the fundamental structures of government and the economy,” a “serious approach to policymaking that some of the other candidates lack,” and “a sweeping expansion of government support for Americans at every stage of life.” In other words: radical!

On the other end, Senator Klobuchar “has emerged as a standard-bearer for the Democratic center.” The Times described her as “the very definition of Midwestern charisma, grit, and sticktoitiveness,” asserting that her tenure and credentials provide the best opportunity to “[unite] the wings of the party—and perhaps the nation.” And here lies the realist.

The Times very briefly acknowledged the allegations of mistreatment that Klobuchar staffers recently brought against her, which included acts of physical and verbal abuse. But for the most part, the paper brushed these allegations off, reminding us that “Ms. Klobuchar has acknowledged she’s a tough boss and pledged to do better.” They then shifted the attention away from Klobuchar, saying that Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Bill Clinton all have reputations for being tough on their staff, “and it is rarely mentioned as a political liability.” Okay, then.

Reporters have called the Times’ double endorsement “chaotic,” “utterly confusing,” and akin to a “reality-TV show,” which also happen to be apt descriptions of the political landscape at large. We’re curious whether their unusual endorsement will shape a certain demographic’s opinion on the remaining Democratic candidates—or whether, as one skeptical reporter believes, it “may have no worth whatsoever.”

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