The Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s biggest paper, is endorsing Hillary Clinton to become the Democrats’ presidential nominee. The decision came down, apparently, as so many things have in this nominating contest, to present versus future, “the way things could be” versus “the way things are”:

Obama offers an attractive vision for the way things could be. He speaks eloquently of hope and change. He connects with voters, many who formerly felt disenfranchised, on a level few political leaders have attained.

Clinton offers a clear-eyed view of the way things are. She offers nuanced positions on how to address the war in Iraq, trade with China and economic expansion. Her depth of knowledge is remarkable.

Wow! That’s high praise from a conservative-leaning paper! But, then, right after the Star giveth…the Star taketh away. As experienced and “clear-eyed” and knowledgeable as Clinton is, as “nuanced” as her policies may be, Clinton has also, the Star declares, “pandered more to voters” than Obama, and taken stands on free trade “that give in to protectionism.”

And then comes the unkindest cut of the three:

Clinton also was an integral part of her husband’s political machine, which earned a reputation for flattening opponents. That factor understandably gives many voters pause about whether another Clinton should serve as president.

Talk about endorsing with faint praise.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.