Today's Papers

Tuesday: The Tipping Point?

The New York Times editorial page endorses McCain and Gore, saying “each of these two men communicates a greater capacity for overarching presidential leadership than his opponent” and praises all the candidates for “reviving public interest in the election process.” It is making a pre-nomination endorsement, its first since 1992, “because of the competitiveness of the contests and … the importance of the choices before our readers.” It explains that while it disagrees with McCain on issues like abortion and gun control (both of which he opposes), his “potential proceeds from deeper knowledge about government and a commitment to reform as a guiding idea rather than a hastily adopted slogan.” It sees in Gore “a passion to lead, a determination to leave a positive mark on history and a burning desire to … prove that he possesses the self-control and presidential high-mindedness so lacking in Mr. Clinton” and says he “knows more about domestic and foreign issues than any candidate in either party” but also cites negatives like his “fund-raising fiascoes.”

David Broder predicts in the Washington Post’s lead that “Nomination Race May End Tuesday” and claims Gore and Bush “have taken command of the ‘Super Tuesday’ lineup of 16 presidential caucuses and could win enough delegates to virtually shut down the nomination race.” The NYT sees it differently in a front piece, “McCain and Bush Facing a Crucial Test on Tuesday,” which claims no prediction can be made about the upcoming Republican primaries or caucuses. The Los Angeles Times’ lead, “Tuesday Shapes Up as Judgement Day for Bush, McCain,” goes for a spin likes the NYT’s, while acknowledging in its second paragraph that “Bush … appears to have all the momentum.”

A NYT story reports the Army’s decision to limit overseas deployment of National Guard and Reserve peacekeeping units to a maximum of six months. That’s because the Army, aware of its increasing reliance on the NGR, wants to ease strains caused by the rising number of calls to active duty and thus counteract any unwillingness to join or stay in the NGR.

The Post’s off-lead notes that lots of e-commerce sites, particularly the ones not associated with a bricks-and-mortar retail company, are finding it difficult to make profits and as such “stock prices of the publicly traded e-tailers have plummeted.” Yet, “[b]eyond all the announcements of downsizing and acquisitions, it has been difficult to draw broad conclusions about e-commerce.” One industry executive points out that Amazon’s “goal is to be so big that … if you’re on the Web you have to do business with them.” The piece points out the ubiquity and brand power Amazon established has given them the strength to compete with the bricks-and-mortar sites. But the story is too soft on hard numbers–for instance, what profits or losses has Amazon reported? Or, is any e-tailer making a profit?

The LAT off-leads news about the National Infrastructure Protection Center, a federal agency that is struggling to overcome poor funding, the distrust of technology industry leaders, and a perhaps too-broad mission in order to better do its job: protecting the country’s investment in the computer networks, which includes preventing computer crimes like the recent (not prevented) hacker attacks.

WP goes below the fold with a piece sub-titled “WWII Compensation Effort Shifts From Europe to Asia,” citing examples like a class-action suit against Japanese industrial giants Dec. 7 on behalf of former World War II prisoners or war who were used as slave laborers and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s efforts to declassify U.S. government records on Japanese war criminals. The piece mentions two Web sites but doesn’t not cite their URLs; it should.

An NYT book review of The Tipping Point, by New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell describes it as a “lively, timely and engaging study of fads” but faults it for dressing up common sense as science in order to cobble together rules of epidemic behavior. While the reviewer, the director of the Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, does have some legitimate fodder for that argument, Gladwell is acting as an amateur social psychologist; and social psychologists often begin with theories derived from common sense observations and then test them scientifically. It would be interesting to hear what a social psychologist has to say about the book.

The NYTMagazine has a very good special issue on “The Liberated, Exploited, Pampered, Frazzled, Uneasy New American Worker.” Among the many interesting articles, one calls for “a new civil rights movement–this time, for American workers,” noting that while labor supply is low and demand high, “there have been only grudging gains in wages” while workers’ are increasingly expected to “check their freedoms at the office door.” Thank goodness someone has finally noticed that most workers haven’t benefitted all that much from the economic boom.