Today's Papers

Hizzoner Humbled

The New York Times and Washington Post lead  with New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s withdrawal from his Senate race against first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. All three papers run above-the-fold pictures of Giuliani, who is the non-local lead at the Los Angeles Times.

All the papers quote Giuliani’s introspective comments: “I used to think the core of me was in politics, probably,” he said. “It isn’t. … You realize you’re not a superman and you’re just a human being.” All note the mayor’s pledge to repair his relations with minorities and to expand health insurance for poor New Yorkers. A NYT editorial  calls Giuliani’s press conference an “existential meditation on love, life, mortality, and priorities.” It commends him for giving “New Yorkers three weeks of political drama that no one is likely to forget.” The Post editorial  praises the mayor for substance, not style: “He has been highly effective in the areas of urban governance that matter most to ordinary people.” NYT columnist Frank Rich argues  that a Giuliani campaign would have been about divorce, not adultery. “[Television] prognosticators,” he writes, “so quick to assume widespread public condemnation of marital sinners, don’t seem to realize that, sadly, it’s happy marriages, not broken ones, that are increasingly the aberration where their viewers live.” (To read Slate’s “Ballot Box” on why Giuliani never stood a chance, click here.)

Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., will be the party nominee. (The Post reports  that Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., backed out once Lazio received the endorsement of Gov. George Pataki.) Political analysts split on whether Lazio is a better candidate than Giuliani: Lazio will get more upstate votes than Giuliani, but fewer in New York City. He will have less baggage than Giuliani, but has a fifth of the mayor’s $19 million in campaign funds. (The LAT explains  what Giuliani can do with the money: Keep it–presumably for a future race, although the LAT doesn’t say–give it back to donors, or give it to the GOP. The Post says  that the GOP could then buy “independent-expenditure” ads for Lazio.) Clinton will try to paint Lazio as an acolyte of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Post calls Lazio “ideologically ambidextrous.” The NYT reports  that Lazio hired Michael Murphy, John McCain’s press aide, to be his campaign manager. A Post piece  outlines the political winners and losers of Giuliani’s decision. The losers are Gov. Pataki and Andrew Cuomo, both of whom may compete with Giuliani in 2002 if they run for governor; the state GOP, which lost its most viable candidate for the Senate; and New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, a prospective mayoral candidate who would have served out Giuliani’s term. Winners are Clinton and prospective mayoral candidate Alan Hevesi. (To read Slate’s “Ballot Box” on Murphy’s self-serving, post-McCain spinning, click here.)

The Post fronts  the failure of the latest e-mail virus. Despite the new virus’ technical sophistication, the “love bug” virus of several weeks ago has made computer users wary of suspicious e-mail attachments. The NYT notes  that the new virus was written by a more sophisticated hacker than was the love bug.

The NYT reports  that Cherie Blair, the 45-year-old wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, gave birth to a boy. She gives new meaning to the term “working mother”: Just 72 hours before the birth she had argued in court against the Blair government’s parental leave policy. The PM promises to cut down on official business to spend more time with his new son.

The LAT reports  that the National Rifle Association wants to build a retail, dining, and entertainment center in Times Square. The project, which is modeled on the “ESPN Zone” stores, will eventually expand to other cities. It will not sell guns or ammunition, but it will feature gun paraphernalia, NRA-logoed outdoors equipment, and “virtual” shooting ranges. The NYT fronts  a story on the NRA’s annual convention, but leaves the Times Square announcement until the 12th paragraph.

In a front-page story, the NYT reports  that Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., “has singlehandedly blocked the United States” from reimbursing “four difficult [United Nations] peacekeeping missions.” A few problems with balance in this story: 1) If the four U.N. missions in question are any more “dangerous” than others, the Times does not say how. 2) The story devotes 11 paragraphs to Gregg’s critics and four paragraphs to his supporters (in this case, the only supporter interviewed is Gregg himself). 3) The story implies that Gregg, as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, is acting alone; yet surely he would not act without the consent of the Senate leadership, which is elected by a majority of GOP senators. 4) The story states in the third paragraph that the U.N. money has been “already approved by Congress,” but in the penultimate paragraph it hints that the Clinton administration has shuffled the spending since it was approved, which gives Gregg the power to block the appropriation.

A Post letter writer comments  on a Gladiator movie review, which mocked actor Russell Crowe’s use of an Australian accent in a film set in ancient Rome. “Perhaps [the reviewer] might like to consider how Spartacus and Ben Hur came to have American accents 1,600 years before Columbus even set sail,” the reader writes. “Perhaps [the reviewer] was getting his first insight of what it’s like for non-American movie watchers when they see someone like John Wayne (in The Greatest Story Ever Told) as a Roman centurion at the foot of the cross, drawling, ‘Surely this was the Son of God.’” (To read Slate’s review of Gladiator, click here.)