Sunday, November 2, 2008

Darren White and the Local Press

Note: This is nothing more than a copy-paste job of two comments I left in this comment thread on the Duke City Fix. The comments are long enough to count as their own posts, so I am putting them up here for safekeeping.

Darren White:

Darren White himself has shown that he's a take charge guy in executive situations. I don't agree with his decisions in many of them, but I can't deny that he made decisions and acted quickly. That's a great trait for an executive. However, he's running for a legislative seat. The duties and roles of that office are very different, and while his hands-on experience is certainly something rather novel in that body, it may be because it's largely irrelevant.

Being on a legislature requires compromising one's singular vision to work with others, even within one's own party, and having to make that compromise is a bare minimum. McCain is an unusual candidate in this election precisely because he's made a record of compromises that aren't strict party, that aren't the ideal version of what he wants, but are in the best interest of the nation, and are better than no solution. That's part of the wealth of experience that legislative experience adds to an individual, and it's helped McCain dodge a good chunk of the harm against the Republican brand. Martin Heinrich, though young, has a wealth of relevant legislative experience. Albuquerque as a city contains more people than many house districts, and governing that populace as part of a legislative body means Heinrich has experience in creating workable solutions, as opposed to pursuing his solitary vision. The streetcar proposal, arguably Heinrich's biggest mistake, was scrapped and abandoned when it was clear that it wasn't in the interest of the electorate, or the city itself, and that's something that had to hurt - as a tech-aware environmentalist from Nob Hill, street cars are all kinds of appealing. But as much as he personally may have wanted it, he knew when to quit, and when to work in the best interest of the entire city. Likewise, the minimum wage increase was first shot down as an overly-ambitious bill, but was re-introduced in such a way as to remove volatile ingredients and replace them with a form that both serves our city and doesn't alienate voters. This is the reputation of a man with ideals, but who understands that ideals have to be tempered with reality and practicality. That's more or less exactly the kind of legislative experience we need in CD3.

But this post isn't about Heinrich; it's about White. White, when working for the governor of New Mexico as head of the department of Public Safety, felt compelled to quit over an ideological opposition to Governor Johnson's support for medical marijuana. Rather than using his position to influence the implementation of any law Johnson signed, White quit over an ideological disagreement. Had he remained in that position (and had the Governor's support turned into a passable bill), White could easily have been in the best position to ensure that the drug is strictly controlled as a medical product, and could have maintained the sharp distinction between medicinal use and illegal personal indulgence. But he didn't, and instead left an office where he could have done much good because he didn't want to be seen as compromising his ideals over an initiative that never came to pass, and was ultimately not a crime issue but a health issue. Much as White touts that experience, it's terrible background for someone we want to reach across the isle, and represent all of us instead of just part of us.

(for more on Darren White, see my Fix post here)

The Local Press

I understand some frustration at the Journal's editorial board for it's endorsement. Always frustrating when those influential disagree with us. Still, this is no need to call for the paper's demise. The Journal, as an organ of the free press, is free to say what it wants until it can't afford to print, and then it can say things it wants online at an absolute minimum of cost. Living away at college and without a regular newspaper, there are some things I miss out on. Yes, I get news, and yes, the blogosphere does a fair bit with news. But what the blogosphere lacks (and the Journal has) is the economic necessity of objective reporting.

Blogs run at the absolute minimum of cost and don't have to appeal to anyone. Newspapers, at the least, have to sell to a large percentage of the city. Now editorial decisions can influence some of that appeal, but that's more background than reality - it's the printed blog entry in print every morning, and it's like eights inches at most. If that is offensive enough to not buy a newspaper, than don't buy the newspaper. It is, however, balanced out by the actual content of the paper, which cannot show bias and which has to care about Albuquerque. Those are both good things, both needed things, and both constraints that new media doesn't have to abide by. For me, that balances out disagreeable editorials (and the god awful content vomit that is the Tuesday editorial page).

No comments: