For what it’s worth, I decided last night that as of noon today (central time), I will no longer write any formal columns about the GOP intra-party presidential contest, nor will I blog about it except to report breaking news developments in a sort of FYI format without my own comments — with the exception of doing straight news-type reports if any candidate comes through my neck of the woods on the Gulf Coast, as several are expected to do before the March 13 primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. (If I make any other exceptions, I will explain WHY I am making such an exception.)
Why this new rule? Because the latest Romney low blow, the swiping of the extra delegate in Michigan in clear contradiction of the rules, made me so angry that, combined with my obvious preference for Santorum over Romney, I feel I have become too clearly a partisan in the battle to maintain enough analytical distance to overcome what is now a “rooting interest” for Santorum. By analytical distance, I mean exactly the sort of ability to try to set aside biases to figure out where the race goes from here, as I did in my column yesterday in which I wrote both that Santorum still has a real shot at this thing but also that Romney clearly is the favorite — and explained why, apart from what I hope happens, the race is likely to play out in a certain way. Agree or disagree with my conclusions there, one would probably need to acknowledge that I made a strong attempt to use my political-scientist-analyst hat (not that I am officially a political scientist, with only an undergrad degree, not a post-grad degree, in poli sci/government) and show all candidates’ strengths and weaknesses completely apart from how much I like the candidate or not.
It is incumbent upon an opinion journalist to be transparent for his readers about his biases. When the biases get in the way of some of the standards of journalism, one should withdraw from the field where the biases apply. I have now reached that point.
To be clear, an opinion journalist of course has opinions and can express them forcefully. I clearly did not approve of Newt Gingrich’s quest for the White House. But in numerous debates I still was able to give him credit for good performances, and I immediately jumped in to write that John King’s question about his marital history was out of bounds, and I forcefully defended him against charges of racism and brought up his little-credited work on behalf of revitalizing the city of Washington DC as one good reason to praise him. In other words, I still felt, and showed, that I could give credit where I thought it was due even while not liking his overall candidacy. I therefore did not withdraw from the field then.
But now I must. When I see Romney, I see red. So I am withdrawing — again, only from the intra-party contest, not from any other commentary.
It is the only fair and honorable thing to do.
Too bad Saul Anuzis in Michigan, and the Romney team everywhere which has made a fetish of vicious negative campaigning, aren’t anywhere near as honorable…..