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LA MESA -- A rainy Sunday morning in this Jewel of the Hills and the national political pundits -- now referred to as a "class" by those who don't like their spin -- are in full throat, reading the latest poll results and churning out scenarios and analyses on the morning news shows.
Much thunder and fury signifying little.
In the great Journalism Depression, this is what has come to replace significant reporting -- journalists of one title (anchor) interviewing colleagues of another title (reporter, correspondent, contributor) with the latter being knighted with an expertise based on some level of actual fact-gathering that is never fully enumerated.
So many races, so many hours of TV time to fill.
But if this is what passes for political journalism today, why should La Mesa be left to enter a watershed election without its own punditry? So herewith, our version in the form of a Q and A. Just picture us sitting at a desk, bright lights in our eyes and stock market quotes flowing across the bottom of the screen and forgive our adherance to the truth.
LA MESA TODAY: How do you think the La Mesa City Council election is going to come out?
PUNDIT (Me): I don't know. I've always thought the voting booth is like the bedroom; there's a lot of talk about voters' preferences before, but truth is revealed in the privacy of the act.
LA MESA TODAY: But you have a good field -- a retired professor (Shannon O'Dunn), an accomplished lawyer (Kristine Alessio), an earnest food manager (Patrick Dean) a feisty realtor (Laura Lothian) and a long time incumbent (Ruth Sterling). Which candidates' approach will resonate most with voters?
PUNDIT: I don't know. It only takes four or five thousand votes to win a council seat and, frankly, there's plenty of time to call that many voters directly and win them over one at a time. Assuming all the candidates are equally persuasive, it could come down to who works the hardest. If the voters want brains and experience, they have that choice. If they just want longevity, that's there too. If they want to stir things up, that's part of the mix as well.
LA MESA TODAY: But are all the candidates of equal quality?
PUNDIT: Truthfully, that's why we have elections. The voters decide that and then, over the course of a winner's term, we -- and they -- find out if they were right. What I might believe would be inappropriate and undermine our readers' trust that we are trying to fairly dig out and present the facts on their behalf. We sometimes publish facts that candidates and their supporters don't like, but it is up to the voters to decide whether those facts influence their support or trust in a candidate.
PUNDIT: Let me ask you a question. Do you intend to endorse candidates in the council or school board races or offer advice on the propositions?
LA MESA TODAY: Well, no. The tradition of journalists endorsing candidates, perhaps had its time. But today, with the easy accessibility of information on candidates, their voting records and their own ability to inform voters directly of their positions and beliefs, our trust in the electorate has grown. Especially at this very local level. For years the Union-Tribune, for example, didn't base its endorsements solely on the quality of the candidate. Its owners were Catholic Republicans who applied their personal views to those decisions as well. The current UT ownership has even more private agendas. I think we've evolved beyond that sort of thing and I think endorsements of all kinds are taking a back seat to the trench warfare -- the organizing, advertising and Internet fundraising that fuels the efforts that move the masses.
PUNDIT: So you are saying punditry is less influential than many think it is?
LA MESA TODAY: Yes. I frankly don't care what you think. Get out there and watch these candidates mix with the voters and do some reporting. Show up on election night and tell us who wins. When the new ones are sworn in, keep track of what they're doing.
PUNDIT: But I did think I might test this whole formula where I weight experience, residential longevity and endorsements and test our prediction model with a snap poll of likely voters conducted at Grossmont Center (just outside the movie theater). It'll shake up this whole quiet race.
LA MESA TODAY: That's just more mush from the wimps.