Today's Papers

The Kuwaiting Game

USA Today

leads with the U.S. decision to move 3,000 additional troops into Kuwait as part of its Iraq build-up. The Washington Post leads with a GOP Senate report’s criticism of Al Gore’s apparent fund-raising appearance at a Buddhist temple during the ‘96 campaign. The New York Times goes with Monica Lewinsky’s upcoming compelled appearance before a Washington D.C. grand jury. And the Los Angeles Times leads with INS mistakes that may have led to improper naturalized citizenship of more than six thousand immigrants.

USAT says the purpose of the fresh troops is to increase pressure on Saddam Hussein, but also collaterally raises the question of how exactly that’s supposed to work, since the paper also states there is no intention to use those soldiers or those already in Kuwait for “offensive action” against Iraq. That will be done, says USAT, from the air. (Just a hunch, but look for an opening move that’s more commandoey than what Saddam’s reading about in the U.S. dailies. Very possibly one that will achieve the same results as an assassination without itself being banned by U.S. policy because the operation wasn’t designed to be one–wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) USAT’s lead includes a quote from a fighter pilot that nicely distills G.I. geopolitics: “We’re all a little itchy. We’d kind of like to do something.”

The troop move is in the front-page news box at the Wall Street Journal, on the WP and LAT fronts, and inside at the NYT.

The WP lead, concerning the report by Senate Republicans on Al Gore’s participation at a Buddhist temple fund-raiser, is in the same mold as last Sunday’s NYT lead–a summary of facts already unearthed during the Thompson hearings, with nothing really new. The Post’s adjacent piece suggests that the report’s finding concerning alleged connections between Clinton money operatives and Chinese intelligence officials is in the same limbo. A similar bit of warmed-over material–about an audience with Clinton apparently granted in exchange for a $325,000 campaign contribution–graces the LAT front.

The NYT explains that now that Monica Lewinsky’s negotiations with Kenneth Starr seem to have stalled out, she has been summoned to appear before Starr’s D.C. grand jury on Thursday. The paper calls the move “a significant escalation.”

In discussing how when word leaked about Lewinsky, it put an end to any undercover usefulness she might have had, the NYT writes, “The next day, word of her alleged affair with the president began seeping out on an Internet gossip site..” The Times, in other words, still can’t bear to breathe the words “Matt Drudge” as a source of news. This is as absurd and snobbish as if NBC News were to report on a story that originally was broken by a “newspaper with offices on 43rd St.”

The NYT’s Keith Bradsher has pretty much owned the topic of the dangers presented to normal-sized cars by sports utility vehicles, and today Bradsher continues, writing about an auto insurance industry report that urges auto makers to redesign SUVs because they “increase the risk of death for other road users while providing little if any additional protection for their own occupants.” The WSJ sees things pretty much the same way, going high with the report’s claim that people in cars hit broadside by SUVs are 27 times more likely to die as the SUVs occupants. But the WP in its SUV piece says the report is more nuanced, suggesting that the problem lies not just with the size of the SUVs but also with the lack of protective features in small cars.

On the top of the NYT national edition is a picture of Secretary of Defense William Cohen on the ground in Kuwait that is interesting because it’s the rare shot of an American politician doing something the rest of us do all the time: wear sunglasses. The picture helps drive home the basis for the taboo: Behind those Foster Grants Cohen looks every bit the kind of oleaginous pol the Godfather has to eventually help out of some little unpleasantness in Vegas.

The WP runs a story on its front about the recent discovery that a much-ticketed truck-driver “whose license was revoked after a crash in August killed a teenage motorist….” was caught driving again. And atop the story sits the headline: “Driver of Truck That Killed Teen is Cited with New Violation.” Besides having previously received thirty-two traffic citations, the driver precipitated the fatality by running a red light. So, it may seem a little thing, but imbued with the Orwellian desire to combat imprecise language that makes lies sound truthful and murder respectable, “Today’s Papers” would urge the WP to rewrite such stories thus: “…whose license was revoked after he crashed into a car, killing a teenage motorist….” And to put it under a headline like: “Driver of Truck Who Killed Teen is Cited With New Violation.”