"And the world turned upside down..."

Dateline: Fri 07 Mar 2008

The Star's endorsement today of Jon Elrod as the best candidate to represent U.S. District 7, over the Dems' favorite son Andre Carson, is precedent-making.

Why? Because the Star, especially under the Gannet leadership, never asked the hard questions about the voting record of Carson's late grandmother, Rep. Julia Carson; instead it seemed to run in place, always endorsing Rep. Carson no matter how iffy her performance in Congress was and despite other issues.

But the paper apparently has finally grown a pair, or maybe just gotten a brain.

It sounds as if, for once, the editorial board actually listened to each candidate and seriously weighed the issues rather than rubber stamping the heir apparent and the Dems' slated choice.

Here are their concerns about Carson:

"But he struggles with specifics on key issues when pressed to move beyond talking points.

"Carson also promises to bring 'fiscal responsibility' to Washington but defends one of the more egregious examples of congressional earmarks directed locally -- federal transportation dollars to relocate loading docks and build a visitors' entrance at the Indianapolis Children's Museum."

While Republican Jon Elrod is also short on experience, the Star sees merit in the ideas he puts forth and their specificity.

I read this news, by the way, on Gary Welsh's Advance Indiana blog this morning. He says:

"What I give the editorial writers credit for doing is that it appears during their interview of the candidates they actually pressed them beyond their standing talking points. When they did that, Carson's smooth-sounding sound-bites got a little rough."

Welsh has also been hammering away at Carson's ties to the Council on American Islam Relations (CAIR), a decidedly anti-Israeli group which hosted a fund-raiser for him. Welsh reports Carson accepted a donation from one member with suspected terrorist ties, and later returned the money.

I have no idea if any of this weighed subconsciously on the Star's editorial board when it made its decision. In fact, I have no idea anymore who is even on that board. The editorial department is so thin -- its only fulltime employees who write are Tim Swarens, cartoonist Cary Varvel and op-ed columnist Dan Carpenter, far as I can tell. I'd love to know who sat in on the Elrod/Carson, and whose judgment prevailed.

At any rate, a refreshing burst of thought and guts from the Star, compared to past performances....

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