On Saturday, the New York Times’ editorial board published its endorsement of Hillary Clinton, a persuasive tour de force that sought to paint the Democratic candidate as not just the sane, underwhelming alternative to bewigged Hantavirus Donald Trump, but as a highly capable leader who will firmly guide the country in the direction of sanity.
The piece quickly distinguishes itself from other endorsements by saying off the bat that this will not be the place for slamming Donald Trump—that will come in a separate piece on Monday. Instead, it sharply enumerates the many things that Hillary Clinton has done right over her long and respectable career, laying out a robust list of achievements grounded in their own merits, and not just how they relate to the toxic, nebulous ideas of her doll-handed opponent:
But this endorsement would also be an empty exercise if it merely affirmed the choice of Clinton supporters. We’re aiming instead to persuade those of you who are hesitating to vote for Mrs. Clinton — because you are reluctant to vote for a Democrat, or for another Clinton, or for a candidate who might appear, on the surface, not to offer change from an establishment that seems indifferent and a political system that seems broken.
Running down the other guy won’t suffice to make that argument. The best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isn’t Donald Trump.
The best case is, instead, about the challenges this country faces, and Mrs. Clinton’s capacity to rise to them.
The endorsement stans hard for Hillary, but doesn’t shy away from articulating her flaws, like favoring the Iraq war and her role in the U.S. intervention in Libya. The paper doesn’t undermine its readers by soft-pedaling these issues, but it does contextualize them:
Mrs. Clinton’s service spans both eras, and she has learned hard lessons from the three presidents she has studied up close. She has also made her own share of mistakes. She has evinced a lamentable penchant for secrecy and made a poor decision to rely on a private email server while at the State Department. That decision deserved scrutiny, and it’s had it. Now, considered alongside the real challenges that will occupy the next president, that email server, which has consumed so much of this campaign, looks like a matter for the help desk.
On Friday, the Cincinnati Enquirer—a paper with a century-long track record of endorsing Republican candidates—wrote grudgingly in favor of Clinton, its position staked mostly in relation to the “clear and present danger” it foresees in a Trump presidency.
It’s fine for the Enquirer to feel that way—many Americans do. The Times, though, realizes that we are perched precariously on a very steep, very perilous historical lip. There are plenty of reasons to vote for Clinton, though much of that coverage has been elbowed out by a news cycle dominated by Trump’s bigoted antics, the granular reporting on each new horrifying offense leaving no room for less-clicky analysis of Clinton’s actual strengths and weaknesses.
The age of blogging often results in the presentation of multiple fragmented opinions from an outlet’s staff. Overall, that’s a good thing—there’s an honesty to acknowledging that a newspaper or website is comprised of many varied voices and opinions, not one monolithic, united front.
The Times has been anything but easy on Clinton in the past, but when it takes a stand, people listen. May Monday’s Trump takedown leave no survivors.