The Week/the Spin

Rotten Eggs

The Yankees won their 25th World Series. Pitcher Roger Clemens shut out the Braves into the eighth inning, leading the Yanks to a 4-1 win. Commentators agreed that the Yanks performed even better than they did last year and that the Braves did even worse than in recent post-seasons. (David Plotz explains what baseball and politics have in common.)

The Republican presidential candidates met for their second forum. George W. Bush, who did not attend, still managed to draw more attention than any of the candidates who showed up. (Click here for Jacob Weisberg’s account of Alan Keyes’ deranged performance.)

Former Sen. Bill Bradley and Vice President Al Gore held their first debate. Pundits awarded victory to: 1) Gore, who started early, stayed late, and showered questioners with declarations of heartfelt warmth; 2) Bradley, whose low-key manner made Gore look desperate; 3) the Yankees, because nearly everyone watched the game instead. (See ” Ballot Box” for a full assessment.)

Armenia’s prime minister and several other government leaders were killed. Dozens of others were hurt when gunmen opened fire on parliament during a speech by Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian. The assailants finally surrendered after a day, claiming that they had only meant to scare members of parliament and that shooting by government security guards had forced them to fire back. The motives of the assailants, who yelled that they were staging a coup and demanded to meet with the president, are unknown. The Armenian government downplayed the incident, claiming that “the city and country are quiet and the only events are taking place around the parliament building.” Western analysts suggested it further underscored the instability of the Russian Caucasus region.

The House ordered a 1 percent cut in federal spending. The bill also provides $85 billion for labor, health, and education. Its Republican drafters claimed that it doesn’t use Social Security monies to fund federal agencies. Congressional auditors disagreed, finding that the bill depends on $43 billion in “creative accounting” and that the budget would have to be cut by 4.8 percent to be balanced without Social Security funds. Democrats gloated over the findings, and President Clinton threatened to veto the measure.

The House voted to ban doctor-assisted suicide. Senate approval is expected, but the president has not yet said whether he’ll veto the measure. If ratified, the bill will overturn an Oregon law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients. Pro-euthanasia advocates warned that this would make doctors wary of prescribing painkillers to any patients, for fear of being accused of assisting a suicide.

The online auction of models’ eggs may be a fraud. Five of the eight models have already dropped out, and journalists who tried to place bids received no response. The proprietors’ explanation: We’re inundated with responses and will be up and running shortly. The journalists’ explanation: The site is a sham, intended only to drive traffic to the owner’s porn sites. (William Saletan dissects the ethics of the sale in “eBabe.”)

Golfer Payne Stewart died in a plane crash. The Learjet carrying him and five others lost contact with air-traffic controllers shortly after takeoff from Orlando, Fla. It traveled on autopilot for 1,400 miles before crashing in South Dakota. Investigators suspect that a sudden loss of cabin pressure caused the passengers to lose consciousness or die early in the journey, but they say they are unlikely to ever find the definitive cause. Stewart, a two-time U.S. Open champion and member of five Ryder Cup teams, was recognized for his unconventional golfing uniform– knickers and a tam-o’-shanter hat. The Orlando Sentinel said Stewart’s charisma, charm, and emotional play were his true legacy.

The Dow Jones industrial average is changing four of its 30 stocks. In: Home Depot, Intel, Microsoft, and SBC Communications. Out: Chevron, Goodyear Tire, Sears Roebuck, and Union Carbide. Dow Jones’ spin: The new index reflects that the economy’s future is in high-tech. Investors’ spin: Duh–what took you so long?

Pat Buchanan and Donald Trump joined the Reform Party. After criticizing the GOP openly for weeks, Buchanan announced that he would seek the Reform presidential nomination, which would bring him $12 million in federal funds. Trump, who said he would decide by March whether to run for president, would likely spend $100 million to $200 million of his own money on a campaign. Buchanan’s spin: The Democrats and Republicans have become too similar and bland. Trump’s spin: The Democrats and Republicans have become too polarized and extreme. Pundits debated whether the candidacies would: 1) take votes from Republicans; 2) take votes from Democrats; or 3) create a self-destructive battle for the soul of the Reform Party. (“Explainer” outlines how the Reform Party selects its presidential nominee.)

President Clinton signed a $268 billion military spending measure. He has threatened to veto the five remaining appropriations bills in the 2000 budget because of Republicans’ proposed cuts in social programs. Clinton criticized the military bill for including budget gimmicks and pork-barrel projects but said that he could not “allow our national security needs to be held hostage by this budget battle.” Skeptics said the president simply realized that contesting defense spending would be unpopular. Republicans’ spin: We’re winning the budget fight by convincing Clinton to compromise. The White House spin: Now it’s your turn to compromise.

Russia continues to bomb Chechnya. Hundreds of civilians have died and at least 160,000 have fled the breakaway republic since Russia began military operations there in the wake of Moscow terrorist bombings. Russian troops are gathering near the Chechen capital of Grozny, though they have not announced plans to invade the city. Chechen leaders called for peace talks, but Russia rejected the offer, saying that Islamic militants would use a cease-fire to rebuild their forces. The Chechen spin: Russia is trying to take us over again. The Russian spin: No, we’re simply preventing terrorist attacks on our people. The American spin: Either way, Russia risks restarting a bloody and futile war.