Today's Papers

Affirmative Negation

The Supreme Court’s decision Monday to let California’s anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 stand leads at USA Today, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times leads with the emerging Republican congressional campaign against Clinton administration small-scale health care reform–and sticks the 209 victory deep inside, on p.13 of the national edition.

The LAT says the 209 decision “marks a major victory for the champions of a new colorblind standard for government.” The three papers leading with 209 all make it clear that the decision will probably spur 209-style laws in many states. And the LAT mentions that the House Judiciary Committee will consider a federal version later this week. The three also point out that although this Court decision was probably the watershed, there might well be other eventual appeals based on cases where plaintiffs allege actual harm as a result of the law. The WP mentions another factor that could lead to further legal challenge: 209 bans “preferential treatment” but does not define it. So look for cases that, for example, claim that 209 doesn’t prohibit preference-based recruiting for programs with color-blind internal standards.

The NYT health care lead states that the same business and insurance lobbyists who teamed up to help kill health care reform in 1994 are mobilizing to block the more modest, piecemeal federal quality-of-care proposals–like mandated-length hospital stays for certain procedures and government standards for health plans–that the Clinton administration has subsequently endorsed. The paper reports that Senate Republican leaders recently organized anti-Clinton strategy briefings. The Times also notes an interesting split within the Republican constituency concerning this issue: Many doctors, convinced that managed care companies have cut into their autonomy and their incomes, are in favor of many of the Clinton provisions reigning them in.

The Wall Street Journal runs a front-page feature about a group of Allendale, South Carolina women with children who are striving to hold down the jobs that have gotten them off welfare. The piece makes the point that getting off welfare by working is even harder for the rural poor, who often have no access to public transportation, or, surprisingly, phones.

USAT’s off-lead is an update on the Iraq/weapons inspector situation. The latest is that Iraq continues to block the operations of a U.N. weapons inspection team, and to threaten to shoot down U.S. surveillance planes. The White House, the paper reports, has warned Saddam Hussein that time is running out for him to avoid “firm action.” The Iraq story is also carried on the NYT front, and in the “world-wide news” box on the front of the WSJ, but doesn’t make the front of the LAT. Or of the WP, which runs it on p. 14.

The WP runs a piece inside on the first-ever World Bank study of AIDS, released yesterday. The piece opens with the report’s observation that, “About 2.3 billion people, roughly half the population of the developing world, live in places where the AIDS epidemic has barely begun, and even mildly successful prevention programs could have enormous benefits.” By contrast, the NYT inside piece on the study emphasizes not the possibilities of prevention, but the scope of the disease’s surge, saving for its 13th paragraph the material that the Post leads with, about the relative scarcity of the disease for about half the world. As if to back up its more alarmist take, the NYT runs a front-page piece about how AIDS is suddenly ravishing Kaliningrad, a city of 400,000 that connects Russia with Europe.

Back to the 209 decision: It seems that the majors have picked up the Hollywood habit of overlooking the writer. Like stars on Oscar night, the papers’ coverage of the 209 victory mentions such proponents as Pete Wilson and Ward Connerly, but there is no front-page mention of Tom Wood or Glynn Clustred, who wrote and conceived 209 in the first place.