Today's Papers

Barr Exam

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post each lead with the initial brief filings in the impeachment trial. The Wall Street Journal flags the story in its front page news box. The headlines at the two Times and the Journal stress the offering by President Clinton of his defense, while the Post big type explains that the paperwork dumped on the Senate includes arguments from both sides. USA Today runs its Clinton defense story as the off-lead and goes instead with Michael Jordan’s imminent retirement, a story that rates big front play at the NYT and a reefer at the LAT. Another sports story dominates much of the rest of the USAT front: the wildly accelerating prices sports franchises are fetching. For the price–$800 million–that the Washington Redskins brought over the weekend, you could, notes the paper, buy a space shuttle flight, or Avis or Rolls-Royce.

The upshot of the White House filing is that the charges do not rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” while the thrust of the House managers’ brief is that if President Clinton’s transgressions aren’t impeachable, then no president not a convicted felon or murderer need ever fear impeachment in the future. It’s noted all around that the White House has added a more aggressive wrinkle to its posture: now claiming that it’s a “myth” that Clinton did not tell the grand jury the truth about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Dissembling about that relationship was confined to the Paula Jones trial deposition, which as it happens, is no longer an issue because the article of impeachment concerning it was not passed.

Everybody notes that with the impeachment trial set to start Thursday, President Clinton eschewed the usual joint press conference alongside visiting Argentine President Carlos Menem. And both the NYT and WP note that the congressional wood shop has been busy building new tables especially for the trial. The Post says its latest poll indicates 85 percent of those surveyed said they had definitely made up their minds about the case, which, the paper says, is “good news for Clinton.”

The coverage emphasizes that the White House chose at this time not to file motions challenging the proceedings, motions that could have added weeks to the whole process. But the papers also report that the White House has indicated it will probably file such motions if the Senate chooses to allow the calling of witnesses after the initial presentations by the House managers and the White House defense counsel. The Post notes that the White House has also dropped for now plans for any constitutional challenges such as that the articles of impeachment were passed by a lame-duck House. But, the paper adds, Sen. Tom Harkin and Sen. Paul Wellstone have filed a procedural motion that would open the Senate’s closed door for deliberations on trial motions or the final verdict.

The LAT reports that at a Monday night press conference, Larry Flynt accused Rep. Bob Barr, one of the House impeachment managers, of hypocrisy for refusing to answer questions put to him about a relationship with a woman not then his wife (she is now) during divorce proceedings.

Inside pieces at the WP and NYT report that Clinton national security officials including Madeleine Albright and the director of the CIA have recommended that Clinton deny clemency to convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. The official word is that Clinton hasn’t come to a decision yet, though. The stories don’t mention whether or not Albright and company were influenced by or mentioned to the president this week’s New Yorker story by Seymour Hersh arguing that Pollard’s intelligence take made its way to the Soviet Union.

The WP’s “The Reliable Source” reports that David Duke now has an opponent in the race to fill Bob Livingston’s soon-to-be-vacated congressional seat: it’s–and this is really her name–Monica Monica.

The NYT op-ed page contains a rumination about the imminence of the millennium by Alain de Botton that scans with the familiarity of an old shoe. But wait a second, it is an old shoe! The piece is merely a lift of two pages from de Botton’s two-year-old book How Proust Can Change Your Life with a 1999 tack-on. Talk about Remembrances of Things Past! Shouldn’t the stuff in the newspaper be…new?