HOLY HOWELL RAINES, MARKOS! It's as though the ghost of Howell Raines has somehow snuck back into the New York Times editorial page. Who could have guessed when looking at the Lieberman/Lamont headline that The Times would ditch their establishmentarian penchant for high-minded bi-partisanship and endorse Ned Lamont? To a political junkie, this was like Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning shot heard round the world.

Since Raines' departure from the top of the editorial page, The Times has reverted from his crusading liberalism back to a more comfortable moderation. The paper infuriated some of their liberal readers by endorsing Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Representative Chris Shays (CT-R) for re-election. And, in the case of Shays, they did so in part on the grounds that having a Republican moderate in the seat was better for the country because it was good to have some ideological diversity within the party -- even though the alternative was a Democrat whose actual policies would better reflect the values of The Times and the district's constituents.

While the editorial was well-written, it does seem strange then for the same page that endorsed Shays to be endorsing Lamont on the grounds that this is an era for vigorous partisanship, and not a time for moderates to lend political cover to the Bush administration. And, interestingly for a paper that has long championed reforms that would break up the security of legislators' seats at every level of government, The Times neglected to point out that perhaps the Lamont challenge is even good for the simple reason that Lieberman is a three-termer. But even for those of us who are under-whelmed by Lamont and are more worried about potentially losing the seat to a right-winger, it was gratifying to see The Times return to its tradition of editorials that provide the sort of strong, eloquent liberal voice more often heard from Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker than from The Times editorial page of late. One only hopes they remember the principles they've just espoused and apply them consistently when deciding who to endorse in Shays' congressional district this fall.

--Ben Adler

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