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Update: The Union-Tribune officially retracted its 2004 endorsement of City Attorney Mike Aguirre on Sunday but refused to take a stand on who should replace him because the race “is virtually certain to go to a runoff.” The virtual certainty (isn’t it either “certain” or not?) that the 2004 race would go to the runoff didn’t stop the U-T from endorsing one of the three candidates for city attorney then.

The U-T editorial board suffers from the same malady that many politicians do: Its members are collectively afraid of looking weak. So they don’t account for their changes of heart. They routinely refuse to explain themselves when they realize they are wrong. And here, they don’t admit the obvious: They can’t decide who should replace Aguirre. In the editorial, the U-T criticizes all but Judge Jan Goldsmith. Obviously, a significant portion of the editorial board wants to support Goldsmith. Another wants to support Council President Scott Peters or Councilman Brian Maienschein.

They could just explain this but rather they retreat to the explanation that it’s “virtually certain” the race will continue so they can step away. They’re afraid to admit that they can’t decide because that would look weak. If you want to have the influence that comes with endorsing candidates, you should have the courage that is needed to actually do it and face the consequences.

The next time they give a politician grief for balking at a tough decision or vote because of fear of the consequences, remind them of this.

But this indecision complex is not only infecting the U-T‘s editorial writers. It seems like many anti-Aguirreites have had trouble deciding who the preferred alternative is. I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Update: Another non-endorsement endorsement here. Seems like Donna Frye, for all her reputation as being straightforward, is trying to maintain some plausible deniability in the future. Why else would she “come right up to the edge” of endorsing Steve Francis but not actually do it?

SCOTT LEWIS

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