The Week/the Spin

Drug Bust

George W. Bush said hehasn’t used drugs since 1974. On Wednesday he vowed never to discuss his drug history. On Thursday he admitted that he had “made some mistakes” and “learned from those” but said he would have passed a 15-year background check in 1989. The media debated whether Bush’s drug history should be probed. Timothy Noah called the inquiries “{{ridiculous and irresponsible#2606:Show=8/11/99&idMessage=3385}}” in “Chatterbox,” but John Stacks argued in Time that past dabblings with cocaine could make Bush’s hard-line drug enforcement policy hypocritical. Maureen Dowd {{denounced#2:}} Republicans for protecting Bush’s past after years of investigating President Clinton’s.

{{Protest#33552}} Serbs rallied againstPresident Slobodan Milosevic. As many as 150,000 people attended the rally in Belgrade. Speakers from the various opposition groups disagreed over when and how Milosevic should be removed. The unanimous spin: The democratic factions are still too divided to unseat him.

The Episcopal and Lutheranchurches are uniting. They will keep separate creeds and structures but will share clergy, sacraments, and missionary projects. The pious spin: “{{Oneness becomes a proof of the authenticity of the gospel#2:}},” a Lutheran bishop told the WashingtonPost. The practical spin: The two churches need to pool their dwindling resources and memberships.

Three Japanesebanks will merge to create the world’s largest financial institution. Bank executives hope the union will resuscitate the Japanese banking industry and thus the entire economy. The New York Times hails the move as “a long-overdue effort to deal with the realities of an overcrowded market, massive bad loans and woefully low profit margins.”

A federal study reported that teendrug abuse fell in 1998. The optimistic spin: The war on drugs is finally working. The pessimistic fine print: drug abuse among young adults and minority groups is rising steadily. A Washington Post editorial berates Elizabeth Dole for her {{ditzy stand#2:}} on drug policy.

Kenneth Starr will resign before theyear’s end. The judicial panel that appointed him split over whether his work should continue. Since the independent counsel statute has expired, no one knows whether Starr can legally be replaced. A New York Times editorial urges him to stay on but to finish the job fast.

A former Los Alamos officialcalled the espionage allegations against Wen Ho Lee racist. The former chief of counterintelligence told the Washington Post that investigators targeted Lee because he is Chinese-American and that there is {{not a “shred of evidence” against him#2:}}. However, an Energy Department official told the New York Times that the charges of racism are bunk and that only three of the 12 initial suspects in the case were of Chinese background.

An earthquake in Turkey killed at least 10,000 and possibly as many as 35,000. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet in effect charged construction authorities with {{murder#33477}}, and international papers roundly condemned their shoddy building standards.

Bosnian Muslim, Serb, and Croat leaders stole $1 billion in public funds and international aid. The money was intended to rebuild infrastructure and schools. The New York Times reports that the corruption will chill private investment and charitable contributions to the region.

{{990818_Putin#33451}} Vladimir Putin was confirmed as Russia’s prime minister. Indifferent to Yeltsin’s latest pick and distracted by upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, the Duma rubber-stamped the appointment. Instead, attention focused on former premier Yevgeny Primakov’s announcement of his alliance with a new political party.

Russia attacked Islamic separatists in Dagestan and bombed neighboring Chechnya. Newly confirmed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed to crush the rebels immediately, but Chechens girded for another drawn-out conflict.

French prosecutors dropped their investigation of the crash that killed Princess Diana. They concluded it was caused by the driver’s loss of control. The Guardian reported that former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell has volunteered to act as a liaison between the Pentagon and Mohammed Al Fayed in the dispute over {{British and American intelligence about the crash#2:,3604,74245,00.html}}.

{{990816_Bush#33289}} George W. Bush won the Iowa straw poll. Steve Forbes placed second, Elizabeth Dole third, and Gary Bauer fourth. “{{Pundit Central#1656:Show=8/16/99&idMessage=3412}}” reports on the unanimous spins: Bush won solidly but not overwhelmingly enough to send other candidates packing. Forbes spent his way into second place. Dole is once again a vice presidential contender, and Bauer is the candidate-designate of the Christian right. Jacob Weisberg rates the {{speeches#31972:Show=8/14/99&idMessage=3408}}, the {{food#31972:Show=8/14/99&idMessage=3407}}, and the {{frippery#31972:Show=8/14/99&idMessage=3405}} in “Ballot Box.”

{{Left Ad#33291}}Lamar Alexander dropped his presidential bid. On Meet the Press, he conceded that George W. Bush’s nomination is assured by a “powerful force.” Jacob Weisberg called Alexander a worthy candidate but agreed that “another moderate Republican with a famous name and far more money {{squashed him like a bug#31972:Show=8/12/99&idMessage=3397}}.” Other commentators suggested Dan Quayle would be the next to go.

{{Columbine#33452}} Columbine High School reopened. Students attended a “Take Back the School” rally, and parents made a human chain around the school. Some parents of slain children complained about the day’s “{{rah, rah, let’s forget about the kids that died#2:}}” tone. On the second day of school, swastikas were found scrawled on the building.

Planet Hollywood filed for bankruptcy. The Wall Street Journal blamed the chain’s failure on bad management and worse food.

{{990816_tiger#33290}} Tiger Woods won the PGA Championship. He beat 19-year-old Sergio García by one stroke. The Washington Post concludes that Woods is {{finally fulfilling the hype#2:}} that surrounded his 1997 Masters victory, but the Associated Press reports that {{García stole the show#2:}}. Commentators salivated at the prospect of a rivalry between the two youngsters.