In a decision that can best be characterized as basically incoherent, the New York Times editorial board has decided to endorse both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar as Democratic candidates for President of the United States.
The Times announced this decision at the end of a special episode of the newspaper’s new documentary television series, The Weekly, during which the editorial board interviewed each of the candidates currently in the Democratic primary race.
In The Weekly, this is how Kathleen Kingsbury, deputy editorial page editor at the Times, explains how the editorial board made this choice:
“In this election, Democratic voters face a choice between divergent visions for the party’s future.
In one camp are those who view President Trump as an aberration, and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible. On the other side are those who believe that the political and economic systems of this country are in need of a radical overhaul.
But in this perilous moment, both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration.”
.... Excuse me? Is there even a real decision in this?
Now this endorsement is odd for so many reasons, but primarily because anyone who has paid even cursory attention to the 2020 election cycle can tell you that Warren and Klobuchar are very different candidates, with very different platforms. Throughout the race, Warren has become known for her comprehensive policy plans on issues such as universal childcare, free public college, and the cancellation of student loan debt. Klobuchar’s campaign, on the other hand, has been all about bipartisanship, and she has openly expressed her disapproval of policies such as Medicare For All and free college tuition.
On top of that, Klobuchar has been accused of creating an abusive workplace environment by berating and humiliating her staff—a fact that the Times actually acknowledges in their written endorsement of Klobuchar, but then dismisses by referencing several male presidents and political leaders who have reputations for occasionally mistreating their staff. It hasn’t hurt their political careers, so why should it hurt hers?
“Reports of how Senator Klobuchar treats her staff give us pause. They raise serious questions about her ability to attract and hire talented people. Surrounding the president with a team of seasoned, reasoned leaders is critical to the success of an administration, not doing so is often the downfall of presidencies. Ms. Klobuchar has acknowledged she’s a tough boss and pledged to do better. (To be fair, Bill Clinton and Mr. Trump — not to mention former Vice President Biden — also have reputations for sometimes berating their staffs, and it is rarely mentioned as a political liability.)”
... lolwut? I won’t spend too much time reiterating all of the points made by my brilliant colleagues, but using a #GirlBoss ethos to excuse inappropriate behavior under the guise of some twisted sense of feminism is transparently absurd. What the Times appears to be saying is “these male politicians can berate their staff without consequence, therefore Klobuchar should be allowed to do the same.”
In fundamental ways, the policy platforms of these two candidates are so divergent that endorsing them both is essentially meaningless. But what do the two of them have in common? Well, they’re both women.
In fact, the decision of the Times to endorse both Warren and Klobuchar, with their obviously different policy platforms and approaches to governing, seems like a perfect example of how organizations lean on shallow ideas of “women’s empowerment” in order to avoid making any strong political statements. Regardless of the intent of the Times Editorial Board, splitting their endorsement between these two candidates seems like a cop-out. After all, what’s the point of endorsing any candidate if not to take a decisive political stance?