Clinton is the first Democrat the paper has endorsed since FDR in 1940. Titled “Donald Trump is No Republican,” the endorsement is a scathing indictment of Trump and a lukewarm endorsement of Clinton: “Résumé vs. résumé, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.” Then it lays out Trump’s various sins against conservatism: He is an authoritarian and an economic protectionist; his foreign policy would kill scores of civilians and benefit our adversaries; he is a Trumpist, not a Republican. “Trump doesn’t reflect Republican ideals of the past; we are certain he shouldn’t reflect the GOP of the future,” the editorial board concludes.
It’s the latest evidence that Clinton will win more newspaper endorsements than any other Democrat in recent memory. Trump’s most loyal supporters read websites like Breitbart; The Dallas Morning News is read by suburban, affluent Republicans who have not warmed to Trump since he won the Republican nomination. The Clinton campaign should expect a windfall of anti-Trump, sort-of-pro-Clinton endorsements over the next two months.
But the Morning News’s core argument—that Donald Trump is not actually a Republican—is also one that won’t go away, especially if Trump loses big. Never mind that Trump is a Republican, or that the conservative movement has been grooming its adherents for a candidate like Trump for generations. Conservatives have a special knack for arguing that their failures stem from not being conservative enough, and there’s no reason to expect that a Trump loss will be any different. “Donald Trump is not a Republican” is a get out of jail card, a way to avoid any introspection about the failed ideology and policies that got conservatives here in the first place.