"Gore, Inslee, Cantwell and Locke"

"We walked through the valley of the shadow of self-doubt last week - not the kind of stroll one is allowed, in a job that demands sufficient professional ego to fill that chasm and spill out over the sides.Weary of the political season, and questioning our capacity for thoughtful endorsements in some races, we resolved to bow out with a few to go. Maybe we needed a good pep talk, or a hug.We got the former via a call from a reader Friday evening, long after we're usually out of the office. That gentleman, a retired broadcast journalist whom we have never met, expressed disappointment in our lack of resolve. Our personal convictions seldom waver, but professionally, we confessed to finding ourselves short on rhetoric. We also believed the Review's savvy readers could connect the dots between our comments last Wednesday and the candidates who will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.While we've penned scores of endorsements over the years, we found ourselves re-evaluating the very process by which we make those calls. What, we mused, if we can't remember how a candidate voted on particular legislation, or why? Can we not sometimes admit our own fallibility?He countered: If everybody shuts up and doesn't say anything, then we're just leaving it to the people who are paying money to buy the elections. And god knows we're far enough down that road.It's your job, he added, conceding that he was probably talking us into endorsing candidates he himself couldn't stomach.I know the brickbats you're hit with...It's a tough call, but pull yourself up by your bootstraps and say 'to hell with it.'Well then, to...heck with it. (Close enough.)Voters face some pretty dramatic choices Nov. 7. Little discussed, but perhaps most in the balance, is how the next president will shape the U.S. Supreme Court and the circuit bench; with more conservative appointees, civil rights that have evolved over the past 40 years stand to be eroded, as do important environmental, worker and consumer protections. Whatever faith one puts in the various branches of government to change the nation for better or worse, recognize that the courts are often first among equals.Sometimes, one can make a call based on a candidate's performance in office (Jay Inslee, for example, has worked some sensible pro-consumer legislation through Congress; Maria Cantwell championed growth management as a legislator); in less fortunate instances, our choices are made by default, preferring bland leadership to the truly ridiculous. (A professional propagandist with no political experience as governor of Washington? Oh, please. And don't even get us started on W.)But more than any credentials, as we suggested last week, it comes down to values. Here are ours: We believe we are bound as community and nation to maintain a safety net for those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder; that stewardship of the environment is our best investment in a healthy future; that our middle class is the fiber that keeps our democracy strong; that the difficult long-range path will deliver us more surely than the dubious easy one; that in tearing down public institutions, we tear down our hope for change; and that George W. Bush would make a fine next-door neighbor.Measured thusly, our endorsements:President: GoreCongress, 1st District: InsleeSenate: CantwellGovernor: LockeForgetting anyone? Don't think so. So now that we've done our job - professional ego restored - do yours. Vote. "

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