This is the time when influential newspapers in the key early voting states make their endorsements. So far, Senator John McCain is leading the pack, scoring the trifecta of endorsements from the Des Moines Register, the (NH) Union Leader, and the Boston Globe. Senator Barack Obama has picked up the Globe, while Senator Hillary Clinton has won the hearts and minds of those at the Register.
Endorsements used to mean a lot: in a world before the proliferation of media, newspapers were the only game in town. What they said was considered gospel truth, because there weren't too many other competing sources of information. People held newspapers in great esteem, and when they endorsed someone, it came down to the reader as if on stone tablets from Horeb.
These days, it's more important to have Oprah's endorsement than the Des Moines Register's. Still, all of the candidates hope for them: this weekend, the New York Times reported that Bill Clinton lobbied the editorial board of the Register hard for Hillary's endorsement. I'm sure there was an offer they couldn't refuse in there somewhere.
Begging for endorsements is par for the course, however unseemly. The irony is that while the Republican race is all over map, there is one candidate mopping up the endorsements: McCain. Meanwhile, the Democrats now have a see-saw of endorsements, for which they are fighting tooth and nail.
The editorial board of the Des Moines Register is made up of three women. Of course they were going to go for Hillary, even without the hard sell from Bill. But they are just 3 votes. On January 3, there will be 150,000 other Iowa Democrats who will make their own endorsements.