Friday, August 12, 2005

The paper I grew up with 

Andrew Roth at the Club for Growth is impressed by the Manchester (NH) Union Leader. My love and learning from the Union Leader dates back to childhood. I grew up there, and delivered the paper in north Manchester throughout high school. Later I drove a truck delivering to carriers in the Concord and Laconia areas, and then to the morning routes in Manchester. (In those days the paper had both morning and afternoon editions.) My first father-in-law was a lifer at the UL; they were as loyal to him as he was to them. My first wedding reception was in the press bar next to the paper's loading dock.

It's never been a big paper, with circulation now under 70,000 and Sunday around a hundred thousand. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald are about fifty miles away and have NH editions for the southern half of the state. But neither paper is anywhere near the Leader for editorial stance.

Its hard-hitting, libertarian-leaning editorials began with William Loeb. Bill Loeb is probably best known as the man that made Edmund Muskie cry, but he also defined two Republican presidents as Tricky Dick and Dopey Dwight. His legacy was carried on by his wife Nackey, and for the last five years after her death continued in the same tradition by publisher Joe McQuaid, who went to the same high school I went to eight years later. The paper has the tradition of running the publisher's editorial on page one, and Joe's this morning on the transportation bill is exemplary of what the UL has always been.
Thanks to President Bush and his overspending buddies in Congress, Dean can admit his party's reckless past and suffer no political consequences. While Republicans are laying claim to Lyndon Johnson's legacy, Howard Dean is squirming out from under it. To be sure, the Democrats still want to load the federal government with new social programs and additional spending. But now that Republicans do too, Democrats can claim with a straight face that they will do it more responsibly.
The older I get, the more I realize I'm a child of that paper and its viewpoint. If Gov. Pawlenty had the Union Leader in St. Paul, I wonder if he would have decided we needed health impact fees.

No candidate for president escapes the glare of the UL. As we gear up for the 2008 election, you'd do well to keep an eye on the little paper. Its editorial page editor, Andrew Cline, has his own blog that's worth a click. Now if they'd just get an RSS feed...