Today's Papers

July Fourth Estate

The domestic holiday news drought continues, so the papers lead with the Mexican election for the second day running. And the results are still the same. Besides featuring front-page election news coverage and separate front-page analysis stories, the papers are laced inside with sidebars looking at the story every which way. Some examples: “MAN IN THE NEWS: THE ‘SELL ME’ POLITICIAN THE MEXICANS BOUGHT,” “VOICES: STRONG FEELINGS OF PRIDE OVER ORDERLY BALLOTING,” “DEFEAT LEAVES LONG-RULING PARTY SHAKEN,” and the destined-to-be-a-classic, “THE DEFEATED: POLITICAL MACHINE DEPENDENT ON POWER LOSES ITS POWER.”

The Washington Post calls the election results a “seismic change” for Mexico. The Los Angeles Times also makes an earthquake reference, while the New York Times prefers “sea change.” The WP quotes an adviser to President-elect Vicente Fox saying Sunday’s outcome was “our first constitutional transition of power since the Aztecs.”

The wheat-to-chaff ratio in all this is not high, but the coverage has its moments. The Post says the Fox campaign had problems going down the stretch because Fox had begun acting as though he were already president, driving his negatives through the roof. But when top strategists confronted him about this, Fox immediately transformed himself, going to more moderate and inclusive stump speeches and appearing in coat and tie more often, which the paper says, led within days to rising poll numbers. The NYT reports that immediately after his triumph, Fox spoke of forging tighter relations with the United States, where, the paper informs, he attended high school for one year in Wisconsin. The LAT says Fox has announced that he will fill his Cabinet from the people he discovers in a nationwide talent search.

The NYT and LAT front, while the WP reefers, Chechen rebels’ carefully coordinated suicide truck bomb attacks against totally unprepared Russian forces at several different locations late Sunday. Dozens of soldiers were killed and perhaps more than 100 were wounded. This represents a new level of ferocity in the rebel tactics and impugns recent Russian claims to have crushed all opposition in the region.

The WP off-leads Saudi Arabia’s decision to raise their oil production soon if the price of crude oil doesn’t drop substantially below the current $30 per barrel. The Saudis also announced that they will consult soon with other OPEC members about their raising output as well. The Saudi target price is $25 per barrel. The Post notes that the last time crude was there was April, when unleaded regular went for $1.16.

The NYT reports inside that the PLO leadership, out of frustration with the slow pace of talks with Israel, has decided to declare a Palestinian state by mid-September whether or not a permanent peace deal has been reached with the Israelis by then. The paper notes that although Yasser Arafat supported the move, it locks him into a “tight, potentially explosive” negotiating schedule with Israel.

Both the WP lead editorial and E.J. Dionne’s Post column refer to the saw that only a sizeable minority of Americans supported independence from England during the revolution. In fact, the editorial makes it pretty quantitative: two-fifths for independence, the rest pretty much evenly divided between those opposed and fence-sitters. Question: Given that there wasn’t a Gallup Poll then, how is this known?

It takes forever to get started, but then it licks everything else on the road. A WP business story explains that for the past several years, Subaru has crafted marketing and advertising strategies to attract gay and lesbian buyers. To wit: The company encourages purchases made through the Rainbow Card, a Visa card that generates funds for AIDS research and gay-related causes. Martina Navratilova is a spokesperson for the cars. An ad last year featured the vanity plate “XENA LVR.” And a current campaign, allegedly touting the virtues of all-wheel drive, features the slogan “It’s Not a Choice. It’s the Way We’re Built.” The CEO of a gay marketing firm tells the Post that her firm calls the cars “Lesbarus.”

A NYT story observes that with every fireworks display enjoyed in the United States today, the nation’s trade deficit with China increases. That’s because almost all fireworks blown up in America are made in China, which last year sold $122.4 million worth of blammo stateside. Even many of the little American flags people will be waving today are made in China. Isn’t this a good illustration of how benign much of the trade deficit is? Making fireworks is dangerous and uninteresting. Haven’t Americans made the right choice in choosing instead to pursue other, more rewarding areas that give them the money and free time to enjoy fireworks without having to make them?