How about we look at the New York Times editorial page, October 23, 2008:
Barack Obama for PresidentThe endorsement goes on and on like this, but you get the drift.
As tough as the times are, the selection of a new president is easy. After nearly two years of a grueling and ugly campaign, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois has proved that he is the right choice to be the 44th president of the United States.
Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems.
Mr. Obama is clear that the nation’s tax structure must be changed to make it fairer. That means the well-off Americans who have benefited disproportionately from Mr. Bush’s tax cuts will have to pay some more.
The American military — its people and equipment — is dangerously overstretched. Mr. Bush has neglected the necessary war in Afghanistan, which now threatens to spiral into defeat.
Both presidential candidates talk about strengthening alliances in Europe and Asia, including NATO, and strongly support Israel. Both candidates talk about repairing America’s image in the world. But it seems clear to us that Mr. Obama is far more likely to do that — and not just because the first black president would present a new American face to the world.
One wonders what the person who wrote that ditty thinks, now that Obama has repudiated his own promises to raise taxes on the rich, has made a complete mess of our relationship with Europe, and is strongly opposed by the entire nation of Israel.
And don't even bring up Gitmo.
Suppose he or she would like to take it all back?
Something else: As I was reading that piece of long ago, something caught my attention. It was a photo of Abraham Lincoln on the same page as the endorsement editorial.
The caption beneath reads: "New York Times endorsements through the ages."
Wonder what this same New York Times that has it so wrong when it comes to Barack Obama thought of Abraham Lincoln the candidate in the days leading up to the most tumultuous election in American history?
New York Times, October 17, 1860:
Mr. Lincoln's Conservatism.For those not aware, that "public peace" was shattered, violently, nine months later at a place called Bull Run (or, as a commenter reminded us, at a place called Ft. Sumter just six months after the editorial was written).
After Mr. LINCOLN shall be elected we think he will very promptly take steps to dispel the fogs that have been thrown around his political position, -- and that he will present himself to the country as a Conservative, devoted to the Union, considerate equally of every section and of every State, and resolved faithfully and with firmness to maintain the Constitution in all its parts. We have no doubt that he will proclaim himself opposed to the extension or increase of Slavery, and equally opposed to any interference of Congress, or of the North, with Slavery in the Southern States. He has repeatedly declared himself in favor of an efficient Fugitive Slave Law, and opposed to negro suffrage and the political equality of the negro race. We regard these as eminently conservative views, and if his Administration adheres to them with firmness and fidelity, we believe it will contribute largely to the restoration of the public peace, and fortify the Constitution and the Union still more thoroughly in the affection and confidence of the American people.
Of one thing, moreover, we are very certain: The moment Mr. LINCOLN shall indicate any purpose to commit aggressions upon Southern rights, he will lose every large Northern. Middle and Western State, which may have aided his election. It is preposterous to say that New-York, or Pennsylvania, or either of the three great Western States, is an Abolition State. Not one of them would vote for LINCOLN if they believed him to be an Abolitionist. Not one of them would sustain his administration for an hour, after he should indicate a purpose to disturb Slavery in any Southern State.
And that just two years later Lincoln - he who would not "disturb Slavery in any Southern State" - disturbed it in the most profound declaration ever written, decreeing:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
We can - and should - give the New York Times credit, at least, for picking the right guy.
But for all the wrong reasons.
Obama? Time will tell.
But it's fair to say, this early in, that he isn't the guy the New York Times thought he was. Or told us he was going to be.
A pattern of misjudgment? Or are they just easily duped?
- - -
Update: See "Obama's embrace of these policies has completely rehabilitated the reputations and standing of the Bush officials responsible for them."
* Punctuation, etc. from the original.
** Bold emphasis mine.