In Richard Borreca’s Aug. 3 On Politics column, the Star-Advertiser’s veteran political analyst reported the following:
• The Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now poll showed Gov. Neil Abercrombie losing to state Sen. David Ige by 18 percentage points.
• Fifty-eight percent of the voters surveyed disapproved of the governor’s job performance.
• An Abercrombie ally compared the governor’s problems to a failed marriage. It is like Neil and the voters buy a house together and then the pressures start and the voters are saying they don’t even recognize him anymore.
• Abercrombie raised and spent nearly $5 million while Ige raised and spent about $500,000.
The numbers changed a few days later. Abercrombie was defeated in the Aug. 9 primary by 31 percentage points, suggesting a swift boot out the door with a good riddance for good measure.
PF Bentley/Civil Beat
The bottom line is, as governor, Neil was given a golden opportunity that he was unprepared to take advantage of. His pronouncement “I’m not your friend,” his questioning of the late Sen. Dan Inouye’s last wish — which proved insensitive, inaccurate and hurtful to Irene, the iconic senator’s wife —the unnecessary Pro Bowl fiasco and his tendency to talk too much and listen too little contributed to his undoing.
This brings us to the big question of the day. Given the above how on earth could Star-Advertiser Publisher Dennis Francis and his Editorial Board endorse Neil Abercrombie?
More significantly, should Dennis and his minions be telling voters who they should vote for rather than reporting the facts and sticking to straight news coverage rather than endorsing candidates? (Columnist’s Note: I deliberately selected the ambiguous term “minion.” Its variety of definitions range from “a subordinate official” to encompass one who is a “fawning servile follower: term of contempt.” I rejected lackey and toady as clearly not applying to at least a few members of the Francis Editorial Board. Some even actually worked for the sainted Diane Chang, Star-Bulletin editorial page editor, who courageously published “Broken Trust” and was eventually dumped overboard when the Honolulu newspaper joint operating agreement came to an end.
The Star Advertiser told you the following about their anointed candidate on July 27:
Abercrombie first sought the state’s top job in 2010, with Hawaii in a recession. His “New Day” vision, developed in a statewide, consensus-seeking “listening tour,” was an easy sell.
As for tone, the governor is no longer on any listening tour. Too often he dismisses those with contrary views, and this is a serious deficiency in any good leader.
However, Abercrombie is not getting enough credit for the progress that has been made, and it’s on the strength of that effort — and the promise of further advances — that the Honolulu Star-Advertiser endorses him for the Democratic nomination to a second term.
The administration pushed hard for the settlement preserving much of the rural character of land surrounding Turtle Bay Resort. The pact did involve many parties, and ironically, the final financing compromise happened with a push from his primary-election rival, state Sen. David Ige.
Civil unions, and then marriage equality for same-sex couples,
A long-standing crisis of abysmal conditions at the state’s system of public housing is resolving, with improved prospects for affordable housing development underway.
Above all, the economy has largely recovered, with its core tourism industry stable, and the governor deserves kudos for working to right the ship before too much damage was done.
This good ship lollypop version of Abercrombie’s accomplishments blithely ignores his chaotic imitation of leadership, the steady flow of people who stopped working with him for “personal reasons” and his voracious appetite for foot swallowing.
Several days after this endorsement the voters, the Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now Poll and Richard Borreca with his sources proclaimed Abercrombie a seriously dead duck. On the night of the 2014 primary election the Abercrombie governorship was mercifully put to rest.
In light of its enlightened endorsement the Star-Advertiser Editorial Board must be wondering:
• Were all the voters wrong?
• Did somebody stuff the ballot boxes?
• Was this a communist plot?
• Was somebody drinking too much fluoridated water?
• Were there hanging, dimpled, misaligned or pregnant chads?
Or are Dennis Francis and his Editorial Board lost in Never Never Land? Or, more frighteningly, have Zombies been feasting on their brains?
How is it that Francis disregarded the opinion of his paper’s expert on political matters, Abercrombie’s litany of gubernatorial inadequacies, the many times he stuck his foot in his mouth up to the kneecap and the judgment of the people expressed in the poll?
It seems to me Dennis Francis and his Editorial Board did little to understand more clearly why the voters were so frustrated with Gov. Abercrombie. They dashed it off in their endorsement editorial as that he was simply not listening to people and that he rejected contrary views.
Yet the following is their party line:
In making election endorsements, we have not always gone with the frontrunners — obviously — but made picks based on our research and access to candidates. The point is to persuade, yes, but more important, to provoke debate and discussion.
Clearly their research fell short. Who did the research promised in the party line and what did it show? Was this research disclosed to the public including all sources?
And we have no idea what Abercrombie told the Editorial Board to convince them to endorse him because Dennis and his Editorial Board lack something they praise but do not practice: transparency.
Since we are about to have a general election — and more candidate endorsements — it would be a great idea for the sake of transparency for the Star-Advertiser to provide the following information:
• What did the candidates say verbatim to the Editorial Board?
• Were the candidates’ statements recorded or not? If not why not?
• Does Francis have power and control over the members of the Editorial Board? Can he hire and fire them? Can he “suggest” or decide who should be on the Editorial Board? Does he decide if members of his Editorial Board get raises and/or promotions and/or other benefits?
• Are decisions on endorsements reached by the democratic process of voting? If so what are the numerical breakdowns of the vote?
• Should Francis even be present at the Editorial Board?
• Should the Star-Advertiser realize it has no business making endorsements?
The good news is that voters did not swallow even a taste of the tripe that was the content of the endorsement by the Star-Advertiser Editorial Board of Governor Abercrombie.
To the voters permit me to extend a big Lex Brodie “Thank You Very Much.”
For those of you who didn’t vote, get off the bench and get into the game. It is a new day. Time to join the living.
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