Hillary Clinton
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

I am not a connoisseur of the Dallas Morning News. In the internet age, I have read some of their articles from time to time, and I’ve mostly been impressed by the quality of their reporting. They run good features and there doesn’t seem to be much slant or bias. Their editorial page, however, hasn’t much caught my attention. But they say that they haven’t endorsed a Democrat for the presidency since “before World War Two,” which I take to mean 1940 at the latest. And there’s a reason for that:

The [Democratic] party’s over-reliance on government and regulation to remedy the country’s ills is at odds with our belief in private-sector ingenuity and innovation. Our values are more about individual liberty, free markets and a strong national defense.

This might seem obvious, since Dallas is a traditionally conservative town and the Republicans are a conservative party, but remember that Texas voted for the Democrat in 1944, 1948, 1960, 1964, 1968, and 1976. The folks at the Dallas Morning News stuck with the Republican Party in good times and bad, when it was the consensus view of their readers and when it was a minority view in their community and state.

They were there in 1964 when their town was still in the shadow of Dealey Plaza and a Texan was on the Democratic ticket, and in 1996 when Bob Dole was getting thumped, and they were there when Barack Obama was being twice elected. They’ve been loyal soldiers for a very long time.

But, it’s over.

There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton…

…Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest…

…After nearly four decades in the public spotlight, 25 of them on the national stage, Clinton is a known quantity. For all her warts, she is the candidate more likely to keep our nation safe, to protect American ideals and to work across the aisle to uphold the vital domestic institutions that rely on a competent, experienced president.

Hillary Clinton has spent years in the trenches doing the hard work needed to prepare herself to lead our nation. In this race, at this time, she deserves your vote.

I’m sure they didn’t make this decision lightly, and they make sure to provide themselves some cover.

It’s no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton. She also has the support of dozens of top advisers from previous Republican administrations, including Henry Paulson, John Negroponte, Richard Armitage and Brent Scowcroft. Also on this list is Jim Glassman, the founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

I was a little surprised to see how aggressively they went after some of Clinton’s critics, calling them ‘hyenas.’

Clinton has remained dogged by questions about her honesty, her willingness to shade the truth. Her use of a private email server while secretary of state is a clear example of poor judgment. She should take additional steps to divorce allegations of influence peddling from the Clinton Foundation. And she must be more forthright with the public by holding news conferences, as opposed to relying on a shield of carefully scripted appearances and speeches.

Those are real shortcomings. But they pale in comparison to the litany of evils some opponents accuse her of. Treason? Murder? Her being cleared of crimes by investigation after investigation has no effect on these political hyenas; they refuse to see anything but conspiracies and cover-ups.

In other words, this isn’t a begrudging endorsement. It’s much more full-throated than I would expect from a rock-ribbed Republican institution that has come to grips with the unacceptability of their party’s nominee. They even give Clinton’s props for her time in the Senate.

Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress’ most conservative lawmakers.

Obviously, there’s another half of this endorsement I haven’t cited that details their reasons for rejecting Trump. They don’t go lightly on him, accusing him of exploiting “xenophobia, racism and misogyny” to bring out the worst in people, “an astounding absence of preparedness,” and “a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control.” They also hit Trump for inexperience, for having no record of public service, a lack of seriousness, and an unwillingness to delve into issues.”

Strikingly, they don’t litigate what Trumpism means or would mean for the Republican Party, settling for a simple assertion that Trump’s “values are hostile to conservatism.”

So, what this endorsement really is is an explanation for why conservatives should prefer Clinton to Trump, and it’s not because they’ll get policies they enthusiastically support when proposed by Rick Perry or George W. Bush. It’s because “there is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November.”

It’s actually about a refusal to demonize their opponent when their own champion is clearly a dangerous joke.

It’s a patriotic act to actually put your country first and not mince words about it. The Dallas Morning News hasn’t changed. They’re still at odds with the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton when it comes to their reliance on private-sector “ingenuity” to address all of our society’s ills. But, for their organization, some things are more important than policy differences.

Will this endorsement be more influential than most?

I think it will, because it comes from a source with a track record and credibility on the right.

And maybe it’s a leading indicator that Texas is turning purple faster than people think.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com