Today's Papers

Photo Opportunism

USA Today

leads with Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin’s warning to Congress against counting on a federal budget surplus. The Washington Post leads with remarks by House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich and by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer to the effect that expanding Medicare coverage to include younger retirees would be a mistake. The New York Times and Los Angeles Times go with the sudden threat to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

The crux of the Israeli situation is that the Foreign Minister, David Levy, resigned on Sunday because of dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s performance on both the social welfare and Palestinian fronts. The NYT explains that the move only leaves Netanyahu with a two-vote margin in Parliament. The Times says that without Levy, Netanyahu is likely to grow more dependent on right-wing parties, and thus to become more resistant to pro-Palestinian concessions. USAT and the WP run the Israel story as their off-leads.

In what is no doubt the payoff for concerted auto industry press lobbying, the Wall Street Journal, NYT, and LAT each run front-page stories about the Big Three’s renewed interest in producing less-guzzling, less-polluting cars. Readers are advised to clip and save these for when the car companies howl the next time the federal government tries to lower fuel economy and emission standards.

In the NYT’s story about today’s opening of the Unabomber trial (run on the front in the national edition, inside in the metro edition), the point is made that the case’s story of “a brother fighting to save the life of the brother he turned in” is “a tale of literary dimensions.” But the Times apparently doesn’t feel such an observation can stand without expert testimony, so it drags in Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy and a lit professor to repeat it.

The WP’s Al Kamen reports that the CIA recently overlooked scads of Agency retirees it should have invited to its 50th anniversary gala. Why? Because it couldn’t find them. How many alumni spooks didn’t get to come in from the cold? As many as 30,000, says Kamen, but he’s just guessing because “the numbers are secret.”

A piece inside the NYT that wonders when the downsizing trend will hit higher ed reports that between 1984 and 1994, the cost of college tuition went up about 150 percent, outpacing even medical care (111 percent).

Sunday’s LAT reports that over the weekend, some Latino workers in L.A. started a hunger strike on the steps of City Hall. What’s the latest causa? A protest by gardeners over the city’s imminent ban against gasoline-powered leaf blowers. “Unfortunately, we feel a hunger strike is the only way we can be heard,” one of the strikers tells the LAT. Well no, we still can’t hear you because of the…goddam leaf blowers!

Yesterday’s NYT “Week in Review” included an overview of the last meals requested by men executed in Texas. One man’s wish was that his final meal be given to a homeless person. Request denied.

They’re both clad only in bathing suits, alone on the beach. He clutches her in to him with his hand on the small of her back while she’s looking up at him adoringly. The fade-out still from a new romantic movie? Or one of those magazine ads for a Caribbean getaway? No, it’s the President and First Lady on the top front of the LAT. Nothing inherently wrong here, but think about it….This isn’t a candid shot: there isn’t an inch out of focus or a blurry branch being parted. And nary a toe being sucked anywhere. And do you think the Secret Service would let a paparazzo get even telephoto close to the First Couple in seclusion on their vacation? No, this is a genre that hasn’t been so blatant since JFK and Jackie: the romantic photo-op. And what’s wrong is that, like the paparazzi’s click-clicking, it’s the exposure of what should be an intimate family moment purely for gain, in this case, political. Inflicting privacy is as unseemly as invading privacy.