Today's Papers

Big Wheel Keep on Turnin’

Margin-to-margin headlines at all major papers announce that the House has voted to begin an impeachment inquiry, the third such vote in the country’s history. The vote split along party lines, with only 31 Democrats supporting hearings. The inquiry has no deadline and has authority to investigate non-Lewinsky matters. It will not begin until Congress reconvenes after the Nov. 3 elections.

All the majors acknowledge that the outcome was largely expected. Still, opening an impeachment inquiry has “deepened the crisis shrouding” Clinton, says the New York Times–a choice of words certain to send a chill down the First Spine. No matter the outcome, the inquiry “permanently scars the Clinton presidency” adds the Washington Post. The papers also say Nov. 3 elections will have a profound effect on impeachment hearings. A big Democratic loss will 1) erode Clinton’s support among his own party and 2) make it possible for Republican senators to remove him without any Democratic defectors.

Clinton reacted gracefully to the news–“detached, even serene” according to the WP–saying “It is not in my hands…. There is nothing I can do.” Maybe Clinton and his aides are happy because, as the WP suggests, the vote means the next four weeks at least will be peaceful. Maybe it’s because, as the Los Angeles Times, WP, and NYT report, a party-line vote means Clinton can call the investigation a partisan witch-hunt.

The WP runs a nice front-page primer on the House. Considered the Constitution’s most important creation by the Founding Fathers, it gets little relatively respect from contemporary politicians and journalists. In other news: The Wall Street Journal reports a third of Representatives were present at the end of the three hour House debate, the NYT reports a quarter were present for the bulk of it.

USA Today, the NYT, and the LAT have front page stories on the stock market, which fell 250 points then recovered late in the day. The NYT says this is a bad sign for investors; USAT focuses on the recovery, which was fueled by rumors of a rate cut; the LAT waffles, reporting that most investors are thoroughly confused.

The top international story (not on the front page of most papers) is that Secretary Albright had harsh words for Yugoslav leader Milosevic. The IMF chief ended its annual meeting by with guarded optimism.

Only the LAT front pages the award of a Nobel Prize to Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago. The novelist is not only a card-carrying Communist, he, like last year’s winner, is an official enemy of the Catholic church–one of his stories depicts Jesus losing his virginity to Mary Magdelene. The WP includes this gem: “It’s never been easier to be a Communist than now,” says Saramago, “because there’s so few of us.” (Today’s Papers wishes the WP corrected solecisms in its quotations, even solecisms committed by Nobel laureates in literature.)