WaPo, BaltSun Hail Outgoing 'Independent' Republicans

On the eve of the 111st Congress's first day of business, the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun aimed to send off outgoing capital-area legislators Sen. John Warner (Va.) and Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (Md.) by piling praise on the moderate-to-liberal Republicans for their "independence" (read: opposition to conservative Republicans).

The January 5 Washington Post heralded outgoing Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) in "A Political Giant Takes His Leave." Warner's absence will leave a "void in [the] Va. delegation," the subheader to Amy Gardner's Metro section front-pager lamented.

Gardner gushed about Warner leaving "the broad legacy of a man who came to personify the Virginia political gentleman," and quickly turned to Democrats Mark Warner and Jim Webb to praise the former Mr. Elizabeth Taylor. Gardner then turned to her focus to "Warner's independent-minded style," citing his criticism in 2006 of the Iraq war effort and his opposition, in campaign cycles past, to conservative Republicans candidates.

"John was never saddled with the wrong priority on parties," Gardner quoted former governor A. Linwood Holton Jr. "He was a Republican.... But he recognized that parties are competitive devices that give people the opportunity to make a choice. He never hesitated to deviate from the party line if he felt that the deviation was necessary for better government service, " Gardner quoted Holton, before painting incoming Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and first-term Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) as the heirs apparent of John Warner's gentlemanly, moderate bipartisanship.

Meanwhile in the pages of the January 5 Baltimore Sun, staffer Matthew Hay Brown delivered a political obituary for an outgoing Maryland Republican congressman with his article, "For Gilchrest, a peaceful farewell." "After 9 terms in Congress, he's still focused on environment," cheered the subheading.

Brown lauded Gilchrest as a champion for the environment who fought valiantly against conservatives within his own party and as a former Marine who has become disenchanted with the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and international diplomacy.

While Gilchrest earned a nearly 60% conservative lifetime score from the American Conservative Union, in recent years he's been trending leftward, with a a 48 percent score in 2006 and a liberal score of 36 percent in 2007.

Like the Post's Gardner, Brown found in Gilchrest a pet Republican that his Democratic successor could praise:

[Frank] Kratovil, a Democrat who will represent a district that usually elects Republicans, says that Gilchrest is a model for how he wants to serve.

"His legacy is the ability to look at issues and get past the propaganda on both sides and made decisions based on a careful and thorough review and doing what's right," Kratovil said. "I hope to be able to continue that outlook."

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.