The Week/the Spin

This Week’s Shootings

Congress approved the $792 billion tax-cut plan. “It’s a happy day for the American taxpayer,” beamed House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Republicans are preparing to call President Clinton “a Scrooge for vetoing this Christmas-in-July package of tax cuts.” The Washington Post condemns the bill as “misshapen,” “unaffordable,” and “a further mortgage on an already overburdened future.” President Clinton, comparing the negotiations to those over the 1996 welfare bill, signaled that he will accept a compromise plan.

Three people died in an Alabama office shooting. Alan Eugene Miller opened fire at his current and former workplaces. In “Today’s Papers,” Scott Shuger says the killings were underplayed because they came too soon after last week’s massacre, which was bloodier and involved wealthier victims.

Mark McGwire hit his 500th home run. Before hitting No. 499, he announced that he had quit the performance-enhancing drug androstenedione four months prior. The White House drug czar lauded McGwire’s decision. But a steroid expert told the Associated Press, “I would have preferred he said it at the beginning of the season. … That’s four months of kids who took andro because of him.”

Richard Holbrooke was confirmed as ambassador to the United Nations. His nomination had been held up for 14 months, first on ethics questions and then because of spats between the GOP and the White House. The Washington Post reports that the Republicans gained little for their stonewalling, and the New York Times relays that the holdup made the United Nations feel even more snubbed by the United States.

The American Academy of Pediatrics told parents to restrict children’s television-watching. The doctors said to keep television away from children under 2 and out of all youngsters’ bedrooms. In “Culturebox,” Judith Shulevitz explains why television is an economic and social necessity.

The Christian Coalition was cleared of improperly helping GOP candidates. A federal judge said the group acted within the boundaries of election law when it handed out Republican-boosting voter guides. The Wall Street Journal spun it as a setback for the Federal Elections Commission and a possible boon to special-interest groups. An election lawyer asked, “If they can’t get these guys, how the heck are they going to go after the AFL-CIO or the environmentalists or the business coalitions?” Monday’s New York Times reported that the coalition is faltering and was never as powerful as it appeared.

Arbitrators priced the Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s assassination at $16 million. The arbitration panel split over how much the federal government should fork over to the Zapruder estate. Two members compared it to President Kennedy’s desk and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook. But the third pointed out that the film is valuable mostly for its licensing rights, which the Zapruders already own.

Hillary Clinton discussed her marital problems. In Talk magazine, she attributed President Clinton’s philandering to childhood abuse. The New York Daily News calls the revelations ” remarkable,” but the New York Post says it’s psychological bunk. (Slate decries the excessive coverage in ” The Breakfast Table,” ” Chatterbox,” ” International Papers,” ” Pundit Central,” and “Frame Game.”)

A disgruntled day trader killed 12 people in Atlanta. Mark Barton bludgeoned his wife and children to death, shot nine workers at day trading investment firms, and then committed suicide. He had previously been suspected in the murder of his first wife and her mother in 1994. This was the third shooting spree in Atlanta in three months. “Pray for our city,” urged Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell. Explanations: The Wall Street Journal tallies Barton’s trading losses; the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points to the trend of workplace violence; and the Washington Post blames loose gun laws.

President Clinton was fined $90,000 for his false testimony in the Paula Jones case. Judge Susan Webber Wright called his perjury “a willful refusal to obey this court’s discovery orders.” “We accept the judgment of the court and will comply with it,” said Clinton’s lawyer.

Linda Tripp was indicted for illegally taping telephone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. Maryland law prohibits recording phone calls without the consent of both parties. Tripp protests that she made the tapes to protect herself because Lewinsky was pressuring her to lie in the Paula Jones case. The Washington Post approves of the indictment in principle but says that constitutional concerns should protect Tripp from “a full-dress felony prosecution.”

Microsoft is going after America Online. It introduced its own version of AOL’s instant-messenger software and said it will offer similar dial-up service for less or no money. The Wall Street Journal noted that similar tactics helped Microsoft beat Lotus and Netscape. AOL countered that Microsoft had already tried and failed to launch a proprietary online service.

Dow Chemical will buy rival Union Carbide. The Wall Street Journal predicts the new company will rival DuPont, the largest U.S. chemical maker.

The World Wrestling Federation is going public. “It’s a collision of two of the biggest pop cultural phenomena of the ‘90s, stock market mania and wrestlemania!” one commentator effused to the Washington Post.