Today's Papers

Peace Balks

The Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times lead with the collapse of the Camp David summit, and the Wall Street Journal puts it atop its front-page world-wide news box. USA Today reefers that development, going instead with the first-ever crash of a Concorde, which killed 113 people when it went down shortly after takeoff near Paris (109 on the plane, four on the ground). The apparent cause was engine failure. The paper’s front is dominated by the largest version of an amateur’s photo that everybody carries, of the Concorde already pluming flame just before hitting the ground.

The Camp David consensus is this: President Clinton concluded that after 14 days and several all-nighters, a Palestinian-Israeli agreement was not in sight. The sticking point was which side would achieve sovereignty over Jerusalem. The LAT says that during the negotiations, Israel offered for the first time ever Palestinian authority over a part of Jerusalem, but the paper says this was turned down because the proffered part did not include the Old City, which contains the most significant religious sites. Even though an unprecedented degree of progress had been made on other issues such as the resettlement of Palestinian refugees and the drawing of many of the borders between Israel and a proposed Palestinian state, the determination of both sides to have all or nothing meant for now nothing. The NYT and WP report that President Clinton had tried to persuade Yasser Arafat to compromise on Jerusalem by pointing out that if he did, he stood to gain a Palestinian state, international legitimacy, and economic support, whereas if he went ahead and in the absence of a deal simply unilaterally declared a Palestinian state, he risked a strong Israeli reaction, including possibly a forcible annexation of some lands and the violence that would likely spawn. But Arafat would not agree not to make such a unilateral declaration, which the LAT calls the most striking failure of the summit.

The papers report that President Clinton, in his concluding remarks, said it was still possible for the two sides to reach a comprehensive agreement before he leaves office. However, he also suggested that of the two participants, Ehud Barak had moved further outside the box and therefore for a deal to be struck, it was Yasser Arafat who would henceforth have to exhibit greater flexibility.

The papers obsess over George W. Bush’s selection of Dick Cheney. An LAT headline calls Cheney “prepared.” A NYT header says he’s a “safe pick.” One piece of WSJ big print says he’s a “gamble.” The NYT puts together the biggest Cheney package, with offerings on “The Armchair General,” “The Personal Finances,” “The Spouse,” “The Record in Congress,” and “The Medical Factor.” The Times hits Cheney’s lengthy and conservative House voting record the hardest, with not only the aforementioned separate piece but also a lead editorial on the topic. But it’s actually Maureen Dowd who goes into the most detail on Cheney’s votes. Dowd claims he was “always willing to pony up money to guerrillas in Nicaragua and Angola but not to poor women whose lives were endangered by their pregnancies … [and] defended cop-killer bullets and plastic guns that could slip through airport metal detectors.” She adds that he voted against Head Start and opposed a House resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. She sums him up as a “prosperous, well-fed, balding, bland, male Republican Washington insider and former House leader who voted to the right of the N.R.A. and Newt Gingrich.” He is, she writes, an example of the Bush family’s yearning for the good old “honorable” days. Meanwhile, over on the WSJ op-ed page, the anti-Dowd, Peggy Noonan, admits as much at the end of her paean to Cheney when she writes that his selection is the sign that “we appear to be entering a new era. Perhaps it will be called the restoration.”

The WP reports inside that–grab on to something–Alan Keyes is dropping out of the presidential race. The story goes on to say that Keyes has not yet filed withdrawal papers with the Federal Election Commission. But it doesn’t explain whether this means he’s still getting FEC matching funds. And while we’re at it, how about an accounting of how much public campaign money Keyes has received in the months since he was last seen by anybody? Indeed, here’s a story idea: How about a total accounting of how much matching money went this election to the liminal candidates like Keyes and Alexander?

The WP takes note of two JAMA studies hitting the street today that conclude that using the Internet to find sex partners is a risk factor for contracting STDs. But there’s an upside to this: Health officials have, says the story, successfully notified unknown partners of two syphilitic gay men who frequented a gay chat room by sending e-mail to the screen names displayed there.

The dopiest headline of the week has got to be this LAT front-pager: “BUSH PICK AN ASSET ONLY IF THEY WIN.”