Today's Papers

Bolts From The Bluenoses

USA Today

, the Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with the party-line-breaking announcement Wednesday by three Republican senators that they will oppose both articles of impeachment. The Washington Post gives this story the boldest headline on its front but leads instead with word that the philanthropist Paul Mellon, who died ten days ago, has bequeathed to the National Gallery $75 million in cash and more than 100 pictures–including van Goghs, Seurats, and Manets–worth many times that much. The headlines focus on the three senators–USAT’s “Clinton Picks Up 3 GOP Votes” is typical–with the exception of the NYT’s, which steps back to provide the context: “Majority Verdict in Doubt For Conviction on Perjury; Obstruction Faltering Too.”

The three bolting Republicans are John Chafee, James Jeffords and Arlen Specter. Everybody quotes Specter’s intention to vote not “Not Guilty,” but rather “Not Proven.” Yet, nobody says if the Senate will actually let him do that. According to the WP and LAT, the three GOP crossovers are semi-joined by Republican Slade Gorton, who announced he will vote against the perjury article but for the obstruction article. The NYT adds that Republican Ted Stevens will do the same thing. The LAT quotes a senator saying there will be additional Republicans crossing over. Meanwhile, during the day a stream of Democrats announced that they would be voting against both articles. The WP says that although failing to get a simple majority has no constitutional relevance, such an outcome could become a “potent political weapon” with which President Clinton and his allies could depict the impeachment as an illegitimate abuse of power. And the WP and NYT report that the People for the American Way has announced a $5 million campaign to unseat Republicans who, in the group’s words “did the bidding of the party’s highly vocal and organized far right faction.”

The papers also report that censure is fading fast, foundering on a combination of strict constitutional readings and disputes about precise wording. They all report that among censure proponents a fallback has emerged: getting as many senators as possible to sign a letter condemning Clinton’s behavior. The LAT quotes Sen. Joseph Lieberman saying that such a document has already garnered 30 signatures.

A Wall Street Journal front-page feature warns that whatever bipartisanship emerges after the impeachment vote may quickly fade. And indeed, a front-page NYT piece reports, based on White House sourcing, that President Clinton is so furious at the House Republicans that he has vowed to help defeat as many of them as possible in the 2000 elections. Clinton has already, the paper says, signed on to congressional campaign fund-raising events in nine cities.

Yesterday, the WP reports, Clinton attended a rally at the University of Maryland designed to whip up support for his pet national service program, AmeriCorps. He wants, says the Post to increase the outfit’s size from its current 40,000 to 100,000 by 2002. The Post makes a point of reporting that it found students at the rally who’ve never heard of AmeriCorps. The paper does what it can for this status quo, running the story on page 10.

The WP, NYT, and LAT each report on a Westminster, California shopkeeper’s attempts to display a poster of Ho Chi Minh and a Communist Vietnam flag in his video store’s window. The man, a Vietnamese, is thought to have set up the display to anger certain of his neighboring retailers in the “Little Saigon” neighborhood, home to more than 200,000 Vietnamese Americans, many of whom fled to the U.S. just ahead of communist troops or only after being imprisoned by them for a few years. The papers report that after being previously beaten, picketed and served with an eviction notice because of his window display, the man won the right in court yesterday to put it up again. But immediately upon arriving to do so, he was set upon by a crowd in front of his store and hit in the face.

Consider today’s WSJ “Business Bulletin” item about a type of software that measures office worker skills. It mentions the location of the company and lists its web site URL, which, in the on-line WSJ is hot-linked to the site. What governs such mentions? Does the Journal test such items before giving this sort of play? On the assumption that no money changes hands, what propels such a small product from such a small company into the paper when, as in this case, it’s not making news?

The WP reports that Rev. Jerry Falwell has issued a “PARENT ALERT” in his organization’s magazine about the Teletubbies character known as “Tinky Winky.” The problem is, says Falwell, that the character is meant to be a boy but carries a purse. Plus, “he is purple–the gay pride color; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle–the gay pride symbol.”

Just about everything in the paper today makes you wonder about the piece inside the WP about British politics headlined, “Tories Turning to GOP for Tips.”