Today's Papers

Camp Town Races

The Los Angeles Times leads with the attempt of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to focus their Camp David talks under the pressure of President Clinton’s planned midweek departure for an economic summit in Japan. USA Today deep-stuffs the talks and goes instead with George W. Bush’s declaration that he’s ruled out trying to persuade Colin Powell to be his running mate. But, the paper adds, quoting Bush’s comments from a Sunday chat show, maybe Powell would go for a Cabinet job like secretary of state. The Washington Post lead looks at the current state of play of term limits, with a focus on the election campaign of Washington state Republican congressman George Nethercutt, who is drawing the organized opposition of limits advocates for running for his fourth term despite initially imposing a three-term limit on himself. The New York Times leads with a trend story about how some utility companies are now trying to use pricing to manage energy demand. The main examples: 1) a power company paying–at a rate considerably lower than the cost of buying electricity on the open market–a coal mine to shut down during a day of high demand; and 2) paying customers a bonus for accepting into their homes thermostats controlled (via the Internet) by the utility.

The LAT lead reports that there’s been a role reversal with respect to the talks: unlike at the beginning of the sessions, it’s the Palestinians now expressing some optimism while Israeli officials say a breakthrough seems out of reach. The WP fronts a domestic development that jibes with that: tens of thousands of Israelis protesting in Tel Aviv against Barak and the talks. The LAT, which stuffs the protests, notes in its lead that President Clinton expressed guarded optimism in an interview with the New York Daily News. The NYT puts the presidential optimism on the top front. But the LAT reports that despite the going-in promise of extensive meetings with Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Yasser Arafat, the staff negotiators have talked to each other far more than their leaders have.

The WP lead doles out an excess of caution about term limits. The momentum for passing the laws is said to be “slowed.” Their political appeal “appears to wane.” All this even though, as the story also informs, it’s been five years since the last state adopted a term-limits law. And maybe the reader would have gotten a clearer idea of just how dead term limits are if the story hadn’t waited until the 16th paragraph to point out that in 1995 the Supreme Court struck down state laws limiting the terms of members of Congress. The last remaining element of the story pretty much disappears when it admits that Nethercutt is “comfortably ahead.”

The Wall Street Journal tops its “Politics and Policy” page with the highlights of the $288 billion-plus defense budget that Congress is rushing through. According to the story, for the first time ever the defense R & D budget will top $100 billion. That, says the story, is more than the Department of Education gets. Not the most useful comparison, because the Department of Education is just about as bloated as the Pentagon and not well known for its accomplishments. What would be interesting here is say, the budget for Head Start or the Peace Corps.

The LAT runs a letter from a woman who says that despite being a Ph.D. and having university teaching experience in two fields, because she lacks a teaching credential, she never heard back from either the Los Angeles public school system or any of the 20 private schools she contacted for a teaching job. But she did quickly get offers from a law firm and an Internet company.

The WP goes inside with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s angry denial of a forthcoming book’s allegation that 26 years ago, after her husband lost his bid for an Arkansas congressional seat, she used an anti-Semitic slur to condemn a man who worked on the campaign. The paper notes a sign of the urgency of the response: HRC invited reporters to the garden of her Westchester house on a Sunday to give it. The Post reports that President Clinton also denies the allegation and the Clinton Senate campaign has released copies of a handwritten letter from the story’s source in which he asks Hillary Clinton for “forgiveness” for unspecified misdeeds. The Post effort mentions that the slur story wasn’t widely known before being reported this past weekend in the New York Post and New York Daily News but doesn’t mention that the book is being published by HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, owner of the New York Post. This should have been mentioned because this would have let the reader know there’s a reason besides factual merit why the New York Post would run the story: book sales.

The Sunday LAT reports that now that the gag order against accused Symbionese Liberation Army bomb-plotter Sara Jane Olson has been lifted, the out-on-bail Olson is free to appear this week on a local public radio show to explain how to make artichoke dip. All this, says the LAT, to promote the book Serving Time: America’s Most Wanted Recipes.