Signs of The Times

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Yesterday The New York Times endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president. (Surprise, surprise — the last Republican endorsed by the paper of record was Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.) The Times also launched a fun interactive tool showing the endorsements for — and, often, the arguments against — every candidate dating back to Lincoln in 1860. An unwavering blanket of blue over the past five decades tempers the importance of the urgent praise for Obama; somehow, Times editors conjured equally fervent words in favor of wallflowers like John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale. The historical flubs are the real draw: In supporting Alton Parker over Teddy Roosevelt in 1904, the paper cited questions about Roosevelt's "temperament and opinion." (Damn. Mulligan?) And only twice has a Times-favored Republican ceded the election to a Democrat. In 1940, the immortal Wendell Willkie was deemed stronger on national security than FDR. (Damn! What is it with those Roosevelt boys?) In 1948, Dewey defeated Truman ... for the hearts of one prominent editorial board, at least. You can also try your hand at some presidential Mad Libs: "In the span of this campaign, proof that his judgment is superior to that of Mr. ____ has been provided by their respective choices for Vice President … In the brief period since nomination, Gov. ____ has already proved from [his/her] injudicious, intemperate remarks that (s)he is utterly inadequate." The more things change ...

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