The New Hampshire Union Leader Moves Left - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The New Hampshire Union Leader Moves Left

New Hampshire’s Union Leader has not endorsed Donald Trump.

Ohhhhh nooooooo! Ohhhh the humanity!

Instead, it went for… Chris Christie. Chris Christie? The Obama bear hugger? What’s up with that? 

What’s up apparently is that the paper is a long ideological way from that November of 1979 when it endorsed Ronald Reagan. Case in point? In 2008 the paper endorsed… wait for it… John McCain. Yes, you read that right. The supposedly conservative paper endorsed the liberal media’s favorite Republican. The co-author of the free speech-killing McCain-Feingold bill. The man who, with Teddy Kennedy, was behind the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 — aka amnesty. 

While McCain did in fact win the New Hampshire primary in 2008, to say the least the paper’s record on pushing a candidate over the finish line has been less than stellar. You recall those New Hampshire GOP primary victors Pete du Pont, Steve Forbes and Newt Gingrich, yes? No? Me neither. While Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight says that up “until the paper backed Newt Gingrich four years ago, every candidate the Union Leader endorsed since 1980 gained in the polls afterward,” the fact is that like Gingrich a number of the paper’s choices failed to win the primary, much less go on to be nominated.

Why? Doubtless there are all kinds of reasons for this. But it certainly is fair to observe at this point that the paper has at least occasionally developed a taste for candidates who are seen as cool at a minimum when not openly hostile at a maximum to the conservative base. The choice of McCain when there were far more conservative choices available in 2008 (Huckabee, Fred Thompson) amazes. Likewise the choice of Christie perplexes. Says the paper in its front page editorial:

We don’t need another fast-talking, well-meaning freshman U.S. senator trying to run the government. We are still seeing the disastrous effects of the last such choice…. Gov. Christie can work across the aisle…

Wow. For a conservative paper to actually believe the problem with the Obama presidency is that the President when elected was a “fast-talking, well-meaning freshman U.S. senator trying to run the government” is stunning. The reason for the problem with the Obama presidency is — hello? — that Mr. Obama is a True Believer in all the doctrinal certitudes of the American Left.

Surely the paper’s editorial staff is familiar with Rush Limbaugh’s famous “I hope he fails” pronouncement a few days before Obama was inaugurated in 2009. Why did Rush say that? Because he knew exactly what Obama’s views and history were. He knew of Obama’s much displayed devotion to the outer reaches of the Left, what it meant to sit in Jeremiah Wright’s pews for 20 years, what it meant to be a devotee of Saul Alinsky and all the rest. Rush understood that an Obama “success” would mean a failure for the country — and that is precisely what has happened. The country’s problems today are a reflection of the practical effects of Obama’s beliefs. They have nothing — zero — to do with the fact that he was a “fast-talking, well-meaning freshman U.S. senator trying to run the government.”

The subtext here in that line from the paper’s Christie endorsement is that Texas Senator Ted Cruz ., Florida’s Marco Rubio ., and Kentucky’s Rand Paul . should be disqualified purely because they are freshman senators. When in fact their freshman Senate terms have nothing to do with their potential as conservative presidents. Since it’s clear the paper is in fact saying the latter, it is equally clear that conservatism per se is something that is no longer the primary consideration in the paper’s endorsement. 

Christie has flip-flopped on Common Cause, for example, first for it and then taking New Jersey out of it. But any sentient conservative would have understood on the spot that Common Core was one more crevice through which the federal government would inject itself into the education system. 

Then there’s this headline from back in 2009 from

GOP gov. candidate Chris Christie says he supports Sonia Sotomayor for U.S. Supreme Court

The story reads in part:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie today announced he is supporting President Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though he says she “would not have been my choice.”

The announcement came following the conclusion of Senate confirmation hearings on Sotomayor, who would be the first Latina justice on the nation’s highest court. It also came days after Democratic State Committee chairman blistered Christie for “engaging in a partisan attack” for saying he would not have chosen Sotomayor during a radio interview in May.

In a statement issued today, Christie said he would not have chosen Sotomayor, but that “I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to keep politics out of the process and confirm her nomination.”

“After watching and listening to Judge Sotomayor’s performance at the confirmation hearings this week, I am confident that she is qualified for the position of Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Christie said. “Elections have consequences. One of those consequences are judicial appointments. While Judge Sotomayor would not have been my choice, President Obama has used his opportunity to fill a seat on the Supreme Court by choosing a nominee who has more than proven her capability, competence and ability.”

Catch that bit about how, well, gee, Christie would not have nominated Sotomayor but now that she has not only been nominated but had her hearings — hearings that revealed the obvious, that Sotomayor was every bit the liberal she was thought to be — Christie supported her because “President Obama has used his opportunity to fill a seat on the Supreme Court by choosing a nominee who has more than proven her capability, competence and ability.” And this is the guy the Union Leader wants to put in charge of filling Supreme Court and other judicial vacancies? Clearly, had Christie been Senator Christie rather than Governor Christie he would not have fought the Sotomayor nomination at all — he would have just rolled over. Amazing.

Note as well the specific citation by the paper that “Gov. Christie can work across the aisle.” “Work across the aisle” or “reach across the aisle” is, in conservative eyes, the telltale sign of a Republican politician who is ready to roll over for liberals when it comes to expanding the federal government. The Union Leader’s stated reasoning here is the very embodiment of what Margaret Thatcher used to call conservatives who went along with another twist of the “socialist ratchet” — merely managing all the latest leftist governmental brainstorms instead of moving the country in the conservative direction. Thatcher called this pitching the tent in the camp of those leading a country in the long march of the Left. Chris Christie, by every indication, is a socialist ratcheteer — and that, apparently, is just fine with the Union Leader.

One could go on here. The paper’s publisher, Joe McQuaid, compares Donald Trump to “the grownup bully ‘Biff’ in the ‘Back to the Future’ movie series.” Which, apparently, when it comes to conservatism, makes the Union Leader the wimpy George McFly of New Hampshire conservatism.

It’s too bad.

But at this point it is clear that whatever else happens in this New Hampshire primary season of 2016, the Union Leader is hell and gone from the genuinely conservative paper that once endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1979.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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