The Week/the Spin

Clinton’s Poverty ‘99 Tour

{{Today In Slate#19756}} {{Clinton#31831}} President Clinton finished his poverty tour. He spent four days visiting poor areas such as Appalachia, Watts, and the Mississippi Delta to “shine the spotlight on places still unlit by the sunshine of our present prosperity.” Critics on the right dismissed the tour as a simplistic photo op, and Peter Edelman, a former Clinton official who quit to protest the 1996 welfare reform, called it cosmetic, arguing that Clinton “cannot admit the extent of the problem because his Administration has a vested interest in the notion that welfare reform has been a success.” But the New York Times’ Jason DeParle chides politicians and the press for their “{{Skepticism and Indifference#2:http://www.nytimes.com/library/politics/070999clinton-poverty-impact.html}},” and the Washington Post interprets the tour as a plug for a “{{Third Way#2:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-07/09/055l-070999-idx.html}}” strategy of using tax incentives for businesses to help the poor.

Hillary Clinton endorsed Israel’s claim to an “indivisible” Jerusalem. She said this in a letter to a conservative Jewish group. This comes several months after she antagonized some Jewish groups by endorsing the idea of a Palestinian state. Cynics suspect she’s reversing course to curry favor with Jewish voters and organizations for New York’s Senate race. The Washington Post faults her not for reversing course but for endorsing what it deems an {{unwise position#2:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-07/09/003l-070999-idx.html}}. Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune{{applauds#2:http://chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/article/0,2669,SAV-9907090132,FF.html}} her for “breaking the mold” by running for the Senate, and the New York Times{{complains#2:http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/editorial/09fri3.html}} that both her campaign travel and that of her Republican rival, Rudolph Giuliani, “are being subsidized–by the taxpayers in Mrs. Clinton’s case and by private jet owners in Mr. Giuliani’s.” (Hillary’s campaign will probably end up paying for the subsidized travel says a Slate “{{Explainer#1790:Show=7/2/99&idMessage=3141}}.”)

Serb rallies against President SlobodanMilosevic are growing. {{Unpaid Yugoslav army reservists#2:http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/europe/070999kosovo-opposition.html}} have reportedly joined the rallies. A news article in Thursday’s New York Times played up expectations “that Milosevic’s survival in power might now be measured not in years, but in months,” but Friday’s Times editorial throws {{cold water#2:http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/editorial/09fri2.html}} on that hope.

Tobacco companies lost another big liability case. A Florida jury found them liable for damages for conspiring to conceal how addictive and harmful cigarettes are. This increases the chances that the companies will have to pay for treatment of smokers’ health problems. The Chicago Tribune observes that {{smokers, too, are responsible#2:http://chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/article/0,2669,SAV-9907090131,FF.html}} for knowingly endangering their health. But the Washington Post argues that if the companies don’t pay for smokers’ medical care, {{taxpayers will#2:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-07/09/002l-070999-idx.html}}.

ABC Radio hired Matt Drudge. His weekly talk show, which has been running on ABC’s New York radio station for a year, will now be syndicated. ABC’s spin is that Drudge’s show is part of ABC entertainment, not ABC news. But according to the Washington Post, even ABC News President David Westin {{isn’t buying that#2:http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-07/08/171l-070899-idx.html}}.

{{hillary#31720}} Hillary Clintonformed a {{committee to explore#1790:show=03/15/99&idBio=53&idMessage=2346}} a U.S. Senate bid from New York and announced plans for a “summer-long listening tour” of the state. An experienced Democratic fund-raiser {{sounded the lonely note#2:http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/oped/07liff.html}} in a New York Times op-ed that star-struck local pols have chickened out of the race in deference to a carpetbagger. Political analysts noted that whatever her drawbacks, she appeals to soccer moms.

{{barak#31721}} Ehud Barak was sworn in as Israeli prime minister after taking seven weeks to assemble his government, which comprises two-thirds of the parliament. Israeli Arabs complained that they were not included in the new Cabinet. The ousted Likud Party, which tried to form a coalition with Barak but was rebuked, accused the former general of being autocratic. In his inaugural speech, Barak reached out to Palestinians and Syrians. The American press, including the Washington Post {{editorial page#2:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-07/07/043l-070799-idx.html}}, received Barak warmly. (For more on Barak’s reception, see “{{International Papers#31681}}.”)

{{smith#31655}}The suspect in the Chicago-area racist killing spree committed suicide. Benjamin Smith (who had changed his name to August because he thought Benjamin sounded too Jewish) allegedly killed a black man and a Korean-American man and wounded two other Asian-Americans and six Orthodox Jews before shooting himself as the cops closed in. The media found plenty of racism and anti-Semitism in Smith’s past but little history of violence. The shooting spree has made the World Church of the Creator, the hate group to which Smith was linked, the new poster child of American racism.

George W. Bush’s military record is under fire. The Los Angeles Times reported that he got “{{favorable treatment and uncommon attention#2:http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/POLITICS/NATPOL/t000059916.html}}” when he was admitted to the Texas Air National Guard in 1968, thereby avoiding being drafted to fight in Vietnam. However, the Times found “no evidence of illegality or regulations broken to accommodate Bush’s entry.” The Dallas Morning News reported that Bush nearly {{flunked the Air Force pilot aptitude test#2:http://www.dallasnews.com/specials/bush_campaign/0704bush10bush.htm}} but “scored high as a future leader.” Bush says he “served my country” and got no special treatment. Pundits and Bush’s Republican rivals are largely blowing off the story.

{{sampras#31656}}Pete Sampras won Wimbledon. He has now set the record for Wimbledon singles titles in this century (six) and tied the record for most Grand Slam victories (12). Sports pundits likened him to Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus. “{{In a League of His Own#2:http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/editorial/06tue3.html}},” gushed the New York Times. However, the {{computer that ranks tennis players#2:http://espn.go.com/ten/news/1999/990705/01338951.html}} by their recent performance in tournaments elevated Andre Agassi, who lost the Wimbledon final, to the top rank, with Sampras third. Lindsay Davenport won the women’s title, inspiring much chatter about American dominance on the Fourth of July.

TheU.S. women’s soccer team advanced to the World Cup finals, beating Brazil 2-0. The team now faces China, which crushed defending champion Norway 5-0. While soccer writers remain emotionally attached to the U.S. team, some, such as ESPN’s {{Jamie Trecker#2:http://espn.go.com/soccer/features/01339242.html}}, fault their sloppy play and predict a Chinese victory.