Today's Papers

Sovereign of the Sleaze

The Los Angeles Times lead predicts the U.S. economy will falter in 1999. The top national story at the Washington Post says that Senate Republicans differ on how to conduct the impeachment trial of President Clinton. The New York Times leads with big business’ drive to obtain credit for cuts in waste gas emissions.

An ursine LAT lead says the economy is headed for big trouble in 1999. Reasons include: 1) political uncertainty in Washington, 2) a record-high stock market, 3) economic instability in Latin America, and 4) a squeeze on corporate profits. Seems like a safe prediction for a paper to make: if the LAT is correct, they can scream “I told you so,” but if another year passes with no economic downturn will readers be reminded of this lead story?

The WP lead reports that the GOP is split on how to proceed with impeachment hearings. The two main factions are Trent Lott’s bipartisans, who favor a streamlined approach, and a conservative group that wants a full Senate trial with witnesses and detailed testimony. Lott’s approach calls for an early vote on whether Clinton’s crimes merit removal from office. If less than two-thirds think they do, the Senate would close the impeachment trial and begin considering censure. Conservative senators and House prosecutors feel that a full-scale trial is the only way for the Senate to make a valid judgment and perform its Constitutional duty. The WP sees the intra-party rift as “a crucial test of [Lott’s] own and possibly his party’s political future.”

The NYT lead reports that, with Senate approval of a global-warming treaty pending, major corporations are spearheading legislation that would ensure they receive credit for cutbacks they have made in gas emissions over the last few years. The Times thinks that passage of such legislation would soften Senate resistance to the treaty and help align industrial and environmental goals.

The second of two environmental stories on the NYT front blows the whistle on Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., which got caught dumping oil in international water, lied to cover it up, paid a fine, apologized, and then got caught dumping oil again. The article chronicles RCC’s elaborate attempts to escape punishment, employing no less than two former U.S. Attorneys General in its lobbying campaign. Because the company still refuses to turn over results of its internal investigation, a federal investigation into Royal Caribbean’s systematic pollution and falsification of records is ongoing.

As always, the year’s final NYT Magazine –“The Lives They Lived”– is devoted to the “old friends” who have died in the previous 12 months. The 40 profiles include the obvious choices–Frank Sinatra, Dr. Spock, Roy Rogers–but there are also stories about Otto Bettmann, who began his photo archive with two suitcases of photographs carted out of Nazi Germany; Martha Gellhorn, who covered wars from Spain in the 1930s to Patagonia in the 1980s; and the inventors of the Cuisinart, the La-Z-Boy, and bubble gum. All of the obits speak fondly of their subjects, save one: Former Alabama Gov. George Wallace is castigated for both his racism and his superficial renunciation of it. Wallace, the profile argues, claimed to have repudiated racism but used issues such as crime and welfare as veils for old-school segregationist politics. The most lives seem to have been lived by Eldridge Cleaver, who spent his years as a convicted criminal, a Muslim, a Black Panther, a presidential candidate, a Moonie, a Mormon, and a conservative Republican.