Good morning. I'm Paul Thornton, The Times' letters editor, and it is Saturday, May 14. Readers in Southern California will appreciate this: May gray has officially arrived. Here's a look back at the week in Opinion.
Sen. Bernie Sanders' hopes for capturing the Democratic nomination for president depend on victory in California (or a quixotic attempt to win over Hillary Clinton-aligned superdelegates — whatever works). Unfortunately for him, he cannot count The Times' editorial board among his supporters.
In an editorial, the paper endorses Clinton, citing Sanders' naivete on certain issues as a reason:
The Vermont senator has made the race more substantive and has forced his opponent to address issues that might otherwise have gone undiscussed, but in the end he has offered little reason to believe that he would be able to enlist recalcitrant Republicans in Congress in accomplishing his priorities. Rather, he told the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, he would say to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell: "Hey, Mitch, look out the window. There’s a million young people out there now. And they’re following politics in a way they didn't before. If you want to vote against this legislation, go for it. But you and some of your friends will not have your seats next election." If only it were that simple.
By contrast, Clinton, for all her faults — and they range from a penchant for secrecy to a willingness to modify her positions to suit the popular mood to a less-restrained view of the use of military force than we are entirely comfortable with — is vastly better prepared than Sanders for the presidency. She has The Times' endorsement in the June 7 California Democratic primary.
Clinton may seem inauthentic to some or to lack that drink-a-beer-with-me quality that voters often look for in a candidate. But she has a grasp of the complexities of government and policy that is unmatched by any of the other candidates who ran for president this year — or by most candidates in most years. She is sober and thoughtful, in possession not just of the facts she needs to make her arguments but of a depth of experience that undergirds her decisions. These qualities are reassuring in juxtaposition to a primary opponent who does not offer, at the end of the day, a serious alternative and, and a likely opponent in the general election who is unprepared, unsuited for the job and dangerous.
From her early days as a children's rights advocate to her role as an activist first lady in pressing for healthcare reform to her public service in the Senate and as secretary of State, Clinton has demonstrated a steely persistence and a keen intellect. She and Sanders agree on many broad goals, including expanding healthcare, regulating the financial sector and reducing America’s reliance on fossil fuels. But where Sanders offers audacious, utopian solutions, Clinton adopts a more incremental approach that has a better chance of success during a time of divided government and political dysfunction when negotiation and compromise will be more important than ever.
For example, Sanders wants to establish a single-payer, British style health insurance system he calls "Medicare for all." Clinton counters with the obvious: It was difficult enough for President Obama to win congressional support for the Affordable Care Act (which many Republicans in Congress still want to repeal) and the emphasis should be on building on and improving on the ACA, not tossing it out and starting from scratch. What's more, some experts say Sanders' proposal would cost twice as much as he estimates it will and could increase the size of the federal government by as much as 50%.
When it comes to financial reform, Sanders has proposed a bill to break up financial institutions that regulators have deemed too big to fail. But the measure, which offers no clues as to how the Treasury Department would go about doing so, seems aimed at exacting a punishment on companies at the heart of the last recession, rather than addressing the behavior that caused it. To that end, Clinton has called for strengthening the Dodd-Frank Act signed by Obama in 2010, which had many of the right concepts but not necessarily the right details.
The two candidates offer a stark contrast when they discuss the issues facing the country. Sanders focuses — often in an inspiring way — on grand causes and doesn't sweat the details. Clinton is acutely conscious of the political and practical obstacles that must be negotiated in order to bring about change. In our view that's an asset.
"Crooked Hillary" — this insult could actually work for Donald Trump. Columnist Doyle McManus says the guy who came up with "Lyin' Ted" Cruz and "Little Marco" Rubio might have another hit with his dig on the former secretary of State whose record raises "ancient questions." L.A. Times
Speaking of powerful women from the Clinton White House, some graduating seniors at Scripps College in Claremont aren't pleased that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will deliver their commencement address today. Columnist Meghan Daum encourages the complaining students to stop acting "as if Joseph Goebbels had been raised from the dead and charged with the task of inspiring the class of 2016 to follow its dreams." (The editorial boards of The Times and the L.A. Daily News express similar sentiments.)
California has too many golf courses and not enough golfers. That rises to the level of economic crisis in a state whose fortunes are tied to the sport and where regulations make it difficult to quickly re-purpose such large swaths of land for more useful things (like housing). With the state of the sport in flux, golf course operators are finding new uses for their tracks; one particularly fun innovation is FootGolf. Zócalo Public Square
Why do we get fat? Research on "The Biggest Loser" contestants suggests "metabolic compensation" effectively sentences obese persons to a lifetime of dramatic weight gains and losses. But a new study is exploring another possibility: that a diet low in carbohydrates results in the least weight gain and hunger. L.A. Times
Republicans scored a victory on Obamacare, but the poor stand to lose. After years of futilely trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the courts because they lacked the votes in Congress, Republicans finally got a federal judge to rule against the law's "cost-sharing" subsidies. This is a fight that should be waged in Congress, not the courtroom, says The Times' editorial board. L.A. Times
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