Today's Papers

Senate Feeling Peachy

Euphoria and bipartisan brotherhood reign in the Senate–for now. The Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times all lead with the Senate’s impressive 100-0 endorsement of a long-awaited impeachment trial roadmap, as they heeded Senator Robert Byrd’s oratorical kick in the pants: “The White House has sullied itself. The House has fallen into the black pit of partisan self-indulgence. The Senate is teetering on the brink of that same black pit.” The deal, in short: Both sides will present their cases beginning next week, but the contentious decision over whether to call witnesses has merely been postponed until after the initial arguments.

Under the rules pounded out in yesterday’s “historic” session, House prosecutors will open their case against the President next Thursday afternoon; they have 24 hours to make their argument, and then White House lawyers will take over for 24 hours. After that the Senate will have 16 hours with which to question both sides. Then, during the week of January 24, the Senators will decide whether to adjourn the trial and, if not, which witnesses to call.

All papers emphasize that the dignified Senate shudders at the prospect of a prolonged, sexually explicit trial, and the NYT best articulates the Democrats’ scandal fatigue strategy: After 48 hours of solid, uninterrupted Monica, Republicans may well cry for mercy.

The Senate consensus, achieved after a meeting in the solemn Old Senate Chamber that was used regularly in pre-Civil War days, spawned a Senate-as-Club article in the WP and similar scene-setting articles elsewhere. For its part, the Senate is positively gloating about its own unanimity, so different from the squabbling rancor in the House. Stoking the unanimity image, each paper fronts a symbolic photo of two staunch ideological opponents, Senators Edward Kennedy and Phil Gramm, clasping hands and enjoying their newfound camaraderie.

The ever-juicier bribery tale about the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics makes all fronts. The president and senior vice-president of Salt Lake Organizing Committee resigned Friday in the wake charges that the committee paid off International Olympic Committee members who helped vote on Salt Lake City as the Olympic venue. The payments, which totaled as much as $70,000 and ranged in type from direct money to scholarships to health care, was dished out not only to IOC members but also to their families. These may be the first of a domino string of resignations, IOC sources indicated in the NYT and LAT, but the shattered U.S. Olympic Committee hopes that the clean-up efforts will soothe jittery Olympic sponsors.

The NYT and WP both speculate inside on Hillary Clinton as a possible candidate for the 2000 New York Senate race to fill the seat left by Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s retirement. This is wishful thinking indeed for New York Democrats, who are scrabbling to find a strong candidate, especially since Andrew Cuomo declared yesterday that he would not run. Sure, Hillary stumped brilliantly for Charles Schumer; but why would she want to subject herself to what the WP calls the “tabloid-soaked culture” of New York … a state where she has never even lived?