Today's Papers

From On Hyde

The papers are dominated by the political reactions of the White House and its critics to Saturday’s House Judiciary vote forwarding articles of impeachment to the full House. Most of the leads report that Republican congressional leaders (the Washington Post specifies Tom Delay, Dick Armey and Henry Hyde; the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and USA Today cite Hyde) have called for Clinton to resign and then have Clinton’s remarks in Israel rejecting the suggestion, saying the possibility has never even crossed his mind. And all but USAT have Clinton’s renewed denial that he committed Lewinsky-related perjury.

All the papers save USAT cite worsening House prospects for the White House, with the LAT quoting Rep. Charles Schumer as saying the odds for impeachment are now “quite strong.” One factor that all the papers note: Speaker-designate Bob Livingston’s pronouncement Saturday night that he thinks a censure alternative should be kept from House consideration. This would remove a non-impeachment option that would have still allowed members to criticize Clinton. The WP and LAT say that House Democrats are planning various procedural moves to try to force censure before the House anyway. USAT cites fresh polling–with nice high mentions of sample size (865) and margin of error (4 percent)–indicating that popular opposition to impeachment has slipped 7 percent in the past week.

The NYT has some unusually harsh language from Republicans. Tom DeLay is quoted saying, “I’m suggesting the President of the United States cannot be believed and I think it’s reflective in his foreign policy….Saddam Hussein knows it and that’s why he jerks his chain all the time.” And the Times has Rep. Billy Tauzin saying, “You see he’s lied to me personally on a very serious matter,” referring, says the paper, to the energy tax in the 1993 budget deal. The paper explains after these quotes that “Clinton has never been well liked in Congress.”

The NYT front-page pic of Clinton touching Yitzhak Rabin’s headstone reveals the president’s thousand-yard stare, and the LAT reports that Clinton looked fatigued and that by the end of his day in Israel “his eyes had narrowed to slits.”

Both the NYT and LAT fronts do “man-in-the-street” stories about public sentiment regarding impeachment. The NYT’s is focused on Canton, Ohio and the LAT’s on Abilene, Texas. And of course, both pieces quote a colorful array of characters on both sides of the question. Now, what do these pieces really accomplish? At least the NYT has the excuse that Canton has been an uncanny bellwether of presidential prospects in several elections. But still, such pieces are utterly random and anecdotal. Polls are bad enough, but these pieces are basically bad polls.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature describes a stunning reason why nuclear proliferation may finally have become unstoppable: the radical availability now of the raw computing power nuclear weapons programs require. The story convinces right off the bat, with the dean of Stanford’s Engineering school explaining how you could craft a supercomputer with a couple of thousand bucks and a ten-minute trip to Fry’s Electronics. After all, the paper points out, the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal was designed on computers running at or below the speed of most current PCs. According to the Journal, under newly loosened export regulations, China has procured nearly 300 high-speed computers, some of which have “ended up in the wrong hands.”

The WP reports that David Boies, Dept. of Justice lead attorney for the Microsoft case, has since last April been charging the government only $50 an hour, compared to his regular fee of $550 an hour. If Boies lowered his fee in order to keep his share of work on the case, would that be illegal?

In case you’re wondering who exactly Henry Hyde thinks he is, consider what he says in the NYT in response to the claim that the American people do not support impeachment: “Look, if Jesus Christ had taken a poll, he would never have preached the gospel.”