Further on the matter of presidential endorsements: The Post-Gazette last endorsed a Republican in 1972, Nixon over McGovern - this according to my good friend Mike McGough, formerly the PG's editorial page editor, who is now working for the Los Angeles Times as an editorial writer in Washington DC.
Mike's institutional memory goes back further than almost anybody now at the PG (I came in 1978). He remembers that two other members of the editorial board wrote a long, unsigned, dissenting editorial that appeared on the op-ed page as a rebuttal to the official endorsement.
This long drought of non-Republican endorsements won't be surprising to some readers - given the paper's generally liberal positions over the years. Nevertheless, the PG has regularly endorsed Republicans for high offices other than president - Gov. Tom Ridge, for example, and Sen. Arlen Specter, as well as Republicans for other statewide offices and the state Legislature (and, of course, we last year endorsed the Republican candidate for Pittsburgh mayor, Mark DeSantis, for all the good that it did him).
The late Bill Block Sr., whom I was honored to know, insisted that while the paper was liberal it wasn't partisan. For him, it was the positions a man or woman took, not the party they belonged to. I once asked him how come then we hadn't picked a Republican for president for so long? He laughingly replied that we might have done so but the Republicans hadn't put up anybody decent.
I am sure that he would have agreed with our endorsement Sunday of Barack Obama but I also hope that one day the GOP won't be so much the party of bitter, angry cranks and that one day we can endorse the Republican candidate as the best hope for America.
If you're interested, you can take a look at our endorsements for the upcoming election so far, and there will be a lot more to come in the next two weeks.