The way Virginia political endorsements have worked over the years at the Washington (Com)Post editorial board is that the Virginia ones have been written by a guy named Lee Hockstader, but presented as the “Washington Post’s endorsement,” unsigned and with no mention of Hockstader. That’s unfortunate, because readers deserve to know that the person writing these endorsements basically never comes to Virginia to cover political events, conducts at best rudimentary interviews with candidates he’s considering for an endorsement, clearly doesn’t study the candidates’ backgrounds, websites, etc.
This has been apparent in many of Hockstader’s endorsements over the years, which I’ve called him out for over and over again. For instance, in 2013 I wrote:
It’s long, LOOOOONG past time to get someone new to write the Post’s Virginia political endorsements. Long-time international correspondent Lee Hockstader, who’s been writing these endorsements under the Post’s name at least since 2006 (when he endorsed corporate lobbyist Harris Miller over Jim Webb), knows little if anything about Virginia politics and should be replaced by someone who actually knows what he or she is doing.
And as I wrote in 2015:
I’ve been referring to the “Post editorial board,” but the reality is that when it comes to Virginia, it’s really just one guy who makes the endorsements. That would be Lee Hockstader, a long-time foreign correspondent for whom Virginia politics is apparently a foreign country. I mean, seriously, when was the last time anyone’s seen Hockstader at a political event – debate, JJ dinner, whatever – here in Virginia? Personally, I’ve covered hundreds of events over the years (not to mention meeting with dozens of candidates and elected officials for interviews and informal discussions), and the last time I saw Hockstader was at a Webb rally in Arlington back in 2006 (again, he endorsed Miller in that election, so he clearly wasn’t impressed with Webb’s grassroots appeal or message). Also, I’ve heard over the years that the endorsement process for the Post isn’t exactly the most thorough or rigorous, but is basically more of “we know who we want to endorse, why spend the effort finding out about the other candidates?”
Well, believe it or not, Hockstader’s managed to reach another nadir this election cycle, with his utterly nonsensical “endorsement” of Barbara Comstock for Congress over Democrat LuAnn Bennett. Here’s Hockstader’s brain-dead “reasoning”:
*He never endorsed Comstock previously, “because of her ideological rigidity; she signed a blanket pledge opposing higher taxes and, in Richmond, voted against a once-in-a-generation transportation funding package backed by Republican leaders and key to the state’s economic prospects.”
*For instance, in 2009, Hockstader endorsed Democrat Margi Vanderhye for House of Delegates over Comstock, writing that Comstock was a “political appointee in the Bush administration” who was “one of a minority of Republican candidates in Northern Virginia to sign a no-new-taxes pledge; that undercuts her own proposal to take a bipartisan approach to solving transportation problems.”
*Hockstader laughably – and without any evidence – claims that Comstock “has taken some steps to temper her hard-right conservatism, voting against a government shut-down, for example.” I mean, seriously? THIS is the standard for not being considered an extremist these days — voting not to shut down the federal government (aka, Comstock actually did the bare minimum of her job requirement), especially when you represent a district in Northern Virginia teeming with federal employees, contractors, etc? Wow.
*Oh, also, did you know that Comstock doesn’t include the word “Republican” on her campaign website, but DOES include the word “bipartisan?” Yep, that’s how long-time GOP political operative/opposition researcher Comstock’s dishonestly branding herself this election cycle, and Hockstader buys it hook, line and sinker!
*Hockstader says that the (Com)Post disagrees strongly with Comstock on just about everything — “her opposition to gun-safety measures and her vote to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health services for millions of women” — yet endorses her regardless, because: a) she finally ditched Trump (note: she only did this in the last couple weeks, and only because she sees that Trump is hurting her politically, NOT out of any principled opposition to Trump’s stands on the issues or the outrageous statements Trump made over the past months); and b) the utterly bizarre, brain-dead theory that right-wing Republican political operative Comstock will suddenly help the Republican Party “to govern, not just wage partisan warfare.” WTF?
Finally, as I wrote in one of my comments on Hockstader’s “endorsement”:
In sum, you: a) disagree (strongly) with Comstock on everything; b) never endorsed her previously because you (correctly) found her to be a hard-right ideological extremist; c) find the Republican Party, to which she belongs, to have gone off the rails; d) despise Donald Trump, who she stuck with for months – even as he insulted women, Latinos, disabled people, veterans, etc, etc. – before pulling her support very recently for PURELY political reasons; and e) ergo, you endorse her. WTF???? Did Lee Hockstader write this drivel? Ugh.
Oh yeah, Comstock actually upheld the BARE minimum of her duties as a U.S. Representative, voting not to shut down the U.S. government. Wow – impressive! And she bills herself, falsely, as “bipartisan” on her website, so you guys say “ok, we’l buy that!” Seriously, you could literally hire a rotting eggplant after firing whoever wrote this crap and raise your editorial page’s IQ by 20, 30 points.
Last but not least, it is hilarious or what that Comstock (and some right-wing bloggers too) – who I’m sure despises the “far-left liberal Washington Post” (as she undoubtedly sees it) – is now TOUTING the Post’s “endorsement” of her? Gotta love cynical, career politicians like Comstock, huh? On second thought…not!