Today's Papers

Vici, Veni, Video

USA Today

and the Los Angeles Times lead with congressional Republicans’ push to release to the public the video of President Clinton’s grand jury testimony. At the Washington Post, where the lead is local primary results, the video is the top national story. At the New York Times, state and local election returns lead, and the top national story is further polling indicating that although the American people are increasingly dubious about Clinton’s moral character, most still don’t think he should be impeached or forced to resign.

According to USAT, Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee–who are in the majority there–will vote either today or Thursday to make the video (and other evidence Ken Starr turned over) public. The paper explains that although grand jury testimony must be kept secret, Congress is not covered by that restriction. USAT says that release would mean the videotape could be airing on TV this weekend. (Last weekend, the book, this weekend, the movie. Next weekend–scratch and sniff?)

The LAT lead stresses the rancor inside the committee the video has caused, calling Democrats “infuriated.” The LAT, WP and a front-page NYT story cite Clinton’s behavior on the tape as the reason for concern: there are times in his testimony when, says the LAT, Clinton “reacted angrily,” and is “visibly upset.” The NYT says the president “even erupted at a couple of points” (Note to reader: Insert own joke here). He is also, says the NYT, shown repeatedly refusing to answer some questions. The Post quotes the assessment of a congressional aide familiar with the tape: “devastating.”

The WP says that censure is losing ground among Republican bigfeet–not a serious enough punishment, they say. And the LAT lead reports that at a meeting between Senate Democrats and White House staffers, at least one lawmaker said Clinton should consider resigning. The WP reports that at that meeting, Sen. Joseph Biden said Democrats might be better off if Clinton resigned, but Biden emphasized then and later that he wasn’t urging resignation. The NYT has a similar account of Biden’s remark. The LAT says two other Senators besides the one at the meeting privately told the paper that Clinton should step down.

A sense of what should be engaging the country more than all of this comes with a reading of today’s WP editorial about the current situation in Serbia . Various diplomats are quoted claiming that Serbian troops under the command of Slobodan Milosevic have shot many ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, and through a scorched-earth policy are fixing to let many more–hundreds of thousands–starve to death. This disaster cannot be ended, writes the Post, without U.S. resolve to use force, resolve that, the paper notes, has been altogether missing from the Clinton administration. “The longer Mr. Clinton dithers,” the editorial concludes, “the greater the costs will be.”

The NYT reports that a number of economists say that some of the Asian countries hardest hit by the region’s economic crisis are now in a depression, meaning of a much longer duration and with much more unemployment than a recession. Cited are Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Japan, while not in a depression yet, is, reports the Times, in its worst recession since WWII.

Reading the various obituaries, it’s been hard to know what to finally make of George Wallace. Was his late-in-life outreach to blacks genuine or a selfish bit of pre-obit cosmetics? Today’s NYT op-ed page brings the assessment of Rep. John Lewis, a giant of the civil rights movement, who was seriously injured by Wallace’s thuggy troops at Selma. Lewis says that “Wallace deserves recognition for seeking redemption for his mistakes, for his willingness to change and to set things right with those he harmed and with his God.”

The main Wall Street Journal “Politics and Policy” piece reports that the moderate “New Democrat” wing of the party, with its “values agenda” of such issues as V-chips for TVs, more family leave and increased parental responsibility, is feeling particularly betrayed by President Clinton. A Harvard theorist of the wing does note however, “The fact of the matter is, the New Democrats never had an adultery position….”