WIMPING OUT….According to this Howard Kurtz story, some 36 newspapers that endorsed Bush in 2000 have decided to lend their stamp of approval to Kerry this time around. That’s well and good and all. But what caught my attention was the comment a few paragraphs in that a number of prominent papers have declined to endorse either candidate for the White House. “We have decided not to add one more potentially polarizing voice to a poisoned debate,” wrote the Cleveland Plain Dealer in their lame, weasely editorial.

Is the Bushification of public discourse so complete that people actually believe it’s somehow polarizing or wrong to express a judgment about two candidates for the highest office in the country? Last time I checked, democratic elections were all about assessing the records and potential of candidates and then making a determination about who would be the best. There’s plenty of poisoned debate to go around, yes. But reasoned newspaper endorsements can and should be on an entirely different plane.

The distinctions between Bush and Kerry could not be more clear and the failure to provide readers with a thoughtful analysis of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses is nothing short of an abdication of responsibility. I don’t care if it sounds like I’m on my high horse. This is ridiculous.

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Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.