Today's Papers

With One You Get Rice

The Washington Post leads with Al Gore’s first sketch of the foreign policy he would pursue as president, an approach he terms “forward engagement” that treats Russia and China as “vital partners” and that he contrasts to what he calls the dangerously “fixated” Cold War stance of George W. Bush. The New York Times runs this story inside, leading instead with GWB’s expected push for an overhaul of Social Security that would include allowing an individual to invest his or her payroll taxes in the stock and bond markets. USA Today goes with an exclusive based on a dip into FBI files: The late Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell was, in the decade or so before coming on the court in 1971, a “special correspondent” of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI who frequently supplied Hoover with information about people the bureau was investigating. The story contains no details about the subjects of those investigations nor about the kind of information Powell provided. It does note however, that Hoover once sent an agent to question Powell about a speech he’d given criticizing the FBI for being overzealous in pursuit of communists. The Los Angeles Times goes with a China-Taiwan overview suggesting that despite China’s recent saber-rattling toward Taiwan because the latter’s new ruling party has challenged the “one China” concept, Taiwan’s considerable investment in the mainland’s economy means the two are on the verge of a dramatic improvement in relations. The paper explains that although direct business relations with mainland China are banned by Taiwanese law, at least 40,000 Taiwanese firms employing a total of some 6 million mainlanders have, via the use of front companies, become investors in China.

The WP lead says Gore is for increasing the Pentagon budget, for expanding NATO further, and for having the U.S. continue its role as a peacemaker in places like Northern Ireland, the Middle East, and the Balkans. And also that he is for “selectively” sending American troops into regional conflicts. This story and an inside NYT story report reaction from Bush’s top foreign policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, who said Gore mischaracterized Bush as a Cold Warrior. and she also chided the Clinton-Gore administration for cutting the defense budget and for using the military around the world “promiscuously.” (For Robert Wright’s critique of the sort of missile defense system Gore favors, click here.) She also impugned Gore’s ability to handle Russia or China. There’s no word in the stories about why Bush himself didn’t address Gore’s speech nor whether it was significant that a Bush adviser was doing it for him.

The NYT lead attributes to Bush advisers the idea that although allowing Social Security withholdings to be invested in the stock and bond markets might seem too risky (the Al Gore position, the paper reminds), there’s a profound change going on in the electorate: Nowadays nearly half of all households own stock and so are less worried about such investments and more eager to make them. Like the WP lead, this story leans rather heavily on “Bush aides” without wondering where George is.

The WP and LAT front Sunday’s gay rights demonstration in Washington, D.C., attended by tens of thousands. (The others stuff it.) Everybody mentions the attendance of Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, and of relatives of that gay man beaten to death in Wyoming, as well as the videotaped messages from Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The WP and NYT mention the attendance of some relatives of the black man who was dragged to death in Texas, while it’s the LAT that has comedian Margaret Cho’s clarion call for legalizing gay marriage: “I believe that a government that would deny gay men the right to bridal registry is a fascist state!”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Clinton administration has decided to end the government’s current handling of GPS navigational information, under which civilian devices only have access to information good to within about a football field, instead of the military’s 30-60 feet. As of tonight, the paper says, civilian hikers, fishermen, and surveyors will get the more refined military numbers. So how will the military deny the exploitation of this information by hostile forces? By jamming the civilian GPS signal during any crisis.

In a NYT op-ed, former Rep. Pat Schroeder claims the just-announced presidential Barbie doll makes her feel as if she has lost her career-long fight to have women viewed as full citizens, because the doll’s message is, “You can be president if you’re a 10!” To illustrate the prevalence of the stereotype the doll reinforces, Schroeder makes the stunning admission that during her years in public office, the one issue she got the most mail about was her hair–about how she styled it and advice about dying it. Schroeder’s line–“In no audience I’ve ever spoken to have I found a man who sent Al Gore a check for Rogaine or asked Newt Gingrich to get a haircut”–suggests that this is somehow a problem with male attitudes. But wait a second–almost all those hair questions were surely from women.