Sunday, October 30, 2005

Enquirer Blows Mayoral Endorsement

Having predicted that the Cincinnati Enquirer would endorse Mark Mallory for mayor, SWNID is forced to admit that we were wrong, though not in doubt. However, we were wrong because the Enquirer is wrong. Unable to follow the lead of its own reporters or the drift of its own guest columnists, the Queen City's leading newspaper today endorsed David Pepper.

Why? Here's the answer:
Pepper's more direct and detailed approach gives him the edge. He has a plan and is ready to implement it. Mallory does not.

So it's the much-vaunted Pepper "plan." Well, we have some things to say about the Pepper plan.

First, as a college instructor, we know the difference between substance and padding. Pepper's plan is the latter. There's little in the plan besides the usual list of unfunded initiatives, spelled out not in detail but with rhetorical flourishes to convince those with the patience to wade through the blather that their special interest is the special interest of David Pepper.

Second, where has Pepper's plan been during his terms in City Council? The most that could be said about Pepper's years on council by Nathaniel Jones in his endorsement of pepper was that Pepper passed rules governing civility in council meetings. So right before the campaign somebody smacked Pepper on the noggin, and out sprang the Pepper plan?

Third, it has been said that no battle plan survives the first engagement with the enemy. The same goes with political plans. They don't survive the first moment of debate in a city council, legislature or congress. Pepper's plan won't mean a thing if it ain't got that support from five council members. And so far Pepper hasn't managed to put together any significant coalitions on the council.

Now, here's the rub, and as Mallory has said, it all has to do with being a council insider versus a council outsider. If Councilman David Pepper is elected mayor four years after a popular incumbent was elected, effectively ousting the incumbent, his election will tell all nine members of council, and most particularly whoever gets the most votes for council, that he or she can undermine Pepper for four years and then challenge him, and probably win. Council will devolve into nine members chasing TV cameras to campaign for 2009. Which is to say it will continue as it is now.

But if Mallory is elected, every council member will be put on notice that someone from the outside can be elected and will hold them to public account for their actions.

So it doesn't matter whether Pepper has a plan or not. He won't be able to get five votes for anything. Mallory, on the other hand, will have the political clout to assemble coalitions. If he wants to, he can implement the Pepper plan.

Choosing leaders isn't about figuring out who has the best ideas before they get on the job. It's about figuring out who has the best philosophy to formulate ideas and the best skills to carry them out. Mallory and Pepper are ideologically indistinguishable. But their skill set is way different. Pepper excels in raising funds from his father's tony friends. Mallory excels in the fine art of politics.

So there you go, Enquirer. You guys are pathetic. It's just a good thing that no one reads the paper anymore, or your endorsement might make a difference in the election.

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