Today's Papers

Never Mind

The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post lead with the House Judiciary Committee’s abrupt decision Thursday to drop (after only two days) President Clinton’s 1996 campaign finances from the areas it will consider in its impeachment inquiry. The move is also fronted at the New York Times, which leads instead with the coordinated decision of Europe’s central banks to cut their interest rates. This story is also flagged in the Wall Street Journal front-page news index where the move is called the effective birth of the European monetary union (officially, still a month away), but it’s missing from the other majors’ fronts. USA Today leads with word that the unseasonably warm weather much of the country is experiencing has been bad for seasonal businesses like ski tourism and for winter-related commodities like heating oil. The Washington Post off-lead adds that the warm spell has hurt November retail sales, primarily because shelves are stocked with winter gear.

The LAT explanation of Judiciary’s finance plug-pull is a quite bald political one: that there is enough Lewinsky evidence to support going forward. The WP says the move came after the committee’s chief counsel read the DOJ fundraising-related memos the committee had just gotten. But the NYT spells this out: the committee honchos think the memos contain no evidence of impeachable offenses. Of course, there is another reason nobody mentions: while it’s likely that few committee members currently have interns working, er, under them, almost all of them get off on soft money.

USAT raises another explanation for not taking on a new area: speed. The paper quotes incoming Speaker Livingston’s observation that there will be five more Democrats in the House come January, which could be a deciding difference, since everyone reports that a House impeachment vote will be extremely close.

The WP and NYT report that draft censure resolutions–some requiring a fine and/or a public Clinton fess-up–are being much discussed in the House, especially among moderate Republicans.

Those who think the drive to impeachment is simply Republican mean-spiritedness, should note that according to the NYT, at a press briefing yesterday, when Sen. Trent Lott asked if there were any questions on something other than impeachment, “He was met with a chorus of nos from reporters….”

The NYT reports that the 11-nation European interest cut is a drastic shift in policy, coming just two months after these same central bankers adamantly refused to cut because of fears of inflation. But it’s clear now, says the paper, that if anything, some European countries (one example cited: Germany) are on the verge of deflation.

The WSJ “Washington Wire” notes that at this week’s impeachment hearings, the two convicted perjurers who testified were not sworn in.

WP columnist Charles Krauthammer weighs in against the ever-widening search for what he calls “Holocaust guilt money” in the coffers of now-respectable businesses such as banks, insurance companies, and manufacturers, including American firms like Ford and GM. Krauthammer says this is wrong because there are so few Holocaust survivors left who will actually benefit from confiscation. What will mainly happen, he writes, is that lawyers will get rich and bureaucrats will get powerful, and there will be a revival of the Shylock stereotyping of Jews. Krauthammer would draw the line at restitution for actual victims represented by pro bono lawyers. The pro bono point is probably right, but otherwise Today’s Papers disagrees. People will think what they will think, but there’s nothing inherently unseemly about seeking to return money from the wrong hands to the right ones. And Krauthammer is wrong if he thinks there still aren’t plenty of right ones–because it’s not just the actual survivors of the Holocaust who were grievously injured by the profiteering banks and other firms. Any person who lost one or both parents to the Nazis is also among their direct victims. As long as WW II’s damaged children walk the earth, fighting for them is a just cause.

The NYT “Corrections” box admits that a November 15th “Week in Review” piece about foreign translations of U.S. movie titles contains nine bogus examples–Internet spoofs that got by the reporter. But like many a correction, this admission is incomplete: the wrong titles are not mentioned. You have to go to Howard Kurtz in the WP to find out, for instance, that “Barb Wire” was erroneously translated by the Times as “Delicate Orbs of Womanhood Bigger Than Your Head Can Hurt You.”