Today's Papers

Don’t Fire Till You See the Whites of Their Izods

Everybody leads with the House Judiciary vote to propose to the full House an impeachment inquiry targeting President Clinton. The headlines at the Washington Post and the New York Times mention that the vote to do so was along strict party lines (Republicans voting yes, Democrats voting no), while USA Today and the Los Angeles Times relegate this news to the small print.

The WP says the proceedings were a “sober” debate, weighted by “the gravity of the moment.” The LAT sees a “heated session,” but one that was “filled with history lessons” and at times resembled a “law school tutorial.” USAT notes much “partisan quarreling,” while the NYT sees a debate that ranged “from sober constitutional discourse to bitter partisan scrapping.”

As had been tipped in earlier press accounts, the papers report that the majority counsel David Schippers outlined 15 possible grounds for impeachment, which augmented Ken Starr’s list with new charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and concealing knowledge of false testimony, replaced talk of perjury with talk of making false statements, and dropped talk of abuse of power. And minority counsel Abbe Lowell described all this as a “laundry list” falling far short of the standards for impeachment. According to the papers, the ensuing discussion by committee members sometimes grasped for the imprimatur of Watergate. The NYT and LAT note that Rep. Bob Barr used John Dean’s hallowed “cancer on the Presidency” line to describe Bill Clinton’s behavior. (But several papers also quote Rep. Lindsey Graham’s question: “Is this Watergate or Peyton Place?”) The WP points out that the resolution passed yesterday was almost word-for-word identical to the one that launched the Nixon impeachment inquiry in 1974. By the way, it’s USAT that makes it clear that this unrestricted resolution means any subsequent impeachment inquiry might include an investigation of Clinton’s 1996 campaign fund-raising.

And the LAT notes how media-infested the whole process has become, noting that the day started with members’ appearances on the morning talk shows, and that at one point during committee debate, one congressman told another, he’d respond to him later on–when the two were on “Crossfire.”

There’s a curious ellipsis in the WP when it quotes Republican Rep. Bill McCollum arguing that impeachment is not obviously too harsh for what the President did. The paper leaves out the part in the middle where McCollum mentioned the exact number of people in prison today (over a hundred) because they lied to a grand jury or in federal court. Why the little dots treatment?

But in an inside piece, the WP does efficiently paint a Bill’s-eye view of the world right now: There could be U.S. military action in Kosovo within days. There could be a government shutdown by the end of the week. The world’s top financial officials are in town looking for money and solutions for the global economic crisis, and by the way, the House of Representatives will probably vote Thursday to begin an impeachment inquiry. Jeez, just typing all those sentences makes Today’s Papers want to escape into phone sex.

A column in last Sunday’s NYT noted the concomitant rise of church marketing and spiritual business consulting, and now comes the Wall Street Journal “Work Week” column reporting that with unemployment low, some companies are recruiting at churches. Manpower Inc. even gives churches a donation for each congregation member placed.

The LAT’s “Column One” details an unheralded breakthrough in U.S. military equipment. For the first time ever, a service branch–the Marine Corps–is buying boots that were designed for civilians. This is a departure from the prior practice of going out to civilian manufacturers and telling them how to make a combat boot. The Matterhorn footwear by Cove Shoe Co. is lighter, cooler, more shock-absorbent and water-resistant than its traditional predecessor. What’s more, notes the LAT, since Cove’s brand-name label is stamped on the heel, the next time Marines are ordered in harm’s way, they will become the first troops ever to go into combat in designer footwear.

The WSJ story about Motorola’s third quarter performance runs under the headline: “Motorola Operating Net Tops Estimates As Firm Benefits From Restructuring.” The WP story on the same subject is headlined “Motorola Posts Loss for Third Quarter.”