Today's Papers

Half-Court Press

Not a lot of consensus today on the top story. The Los Angeles Times leads with the situation on the Russian space station Mir, the New York Times goes with the push for new ways to keep sex offenders away from the rest of us even after they’ve done their time, and the Washington Post chooses a review of the Supreme Court’s just-concluded term.

The LAT also does a front-page review of the Supreme Court’s performance, emphasizing the many ways in which its decisions stymied positions near and dear to Bill Clinton, whereas the Post’s treatment focuses not on the political, but the personal, noting that in considering medically assisted suicide, Justices O’Connor and Stevens no doubt drew on their own brushes with cancer, and that for the decision overturning suppression of cyberporn, the justices logged on to the Internet. The Post also reports that by the time the last of the Court’s decisions was announced, Chief Justice Rehnquist had already left town for Rome.

Both the NYT and WP give above-the-fold treatment to the tax bills just passed by the House and Senate. The NYT’s take sees the big picture of the budget deficit and of the long-term prospects for Medicare and Social Security, and credits those who worked on the bill with “political nerve” while finding the budget process this year marked by a “notable credibility.” This is just what the Post doesn’t find. It sees the bills as a triumph of “small interests,” noting that they contain special provisions for the likes of “bakery companies, apple cider distillers, low-income farmers, luxury boaters, sky-diving instructors and even whaling captains.” Not to mention Sen. Orrin Hatch’s efforts on behalf of arrow manufacturers.

The NYT also goes top of the fold with the story of how the CEOs of American arms manufacturers, hoping for new overseas customers, are lobbying both here and abroad for NATO expansion. A sample revelation: Bernard L. Schwartz, chairman of Loral Space and Communications, personally donated $601,000 to Democratic politicians during the 1996 election cycle.

And by the way, exactly what point is today’s Post making about new White House advisor Sidney Blumenthal in the following paragraph? “Dick Morris pushed numerous policies on to the president’s agenda before being banished from the Clinton team in a sex scandal last summer. ‘Sidney,’ he said, ‘is well-positioned to play much the same role that I did.’”