Today's Papers

Pretty, Legitimate Questions

Everybody leads with run-ups to this week’s Republican National Convention. The Washington Post goes with a paean to party unity, or in the words of the convention’s chairman, “It’s not the Republican convention. It’s Governor Bush’s Republican convention.” The New York Times interviews George W. Bush, campaigning in Missouri and other states that voted for President Clinton in 1996. The nominee says that during his acceptance speech he will speak “from the heart,” unclenching the “iron fist” he has used to quell dissent within the party. The Los Angeles Times outlines Republicans’ final backstage tinkering before the curtain opens tomorrow. The Bush campaign muscled onto the Republican platform its education policy, which encourages greater federal action.

The Post boxes its top-front convention package–the lead and a piece about how corporations have been cozying up to their relevant legislators. The NYT off-leads the opposite story, about how Republicans hope to squeeze contributors for more unrestricted campaign funds–they’ve chipped in $137.4 million so far. The Post reports in its lead that Bush “has been blessed by the absence of ideological conflict in recent weeks.” The NYT says this harmony is attributable to the governor’s “ability to … limit dissension.”

“Voters [are] paying minimal attention to the campaign,” the Post reports, a fact propelling Bush to make a big splash this week. The NYT puts the voter-apathy question to Bush, who answers, “That’s a pretty legitimate question.” Bush describes to the Post the phenomenon of father-son presidencies as the “Adams family factor,” according to an A-section Post story… The Democrats will launch a $3.5 million, 17-state countercampaign this week (LAT). All three papers carry Vice President Al Gore’s announcement that he will introduce his running mate Aug. 8.

A Post front-pager sits readers at the Palestinian-Israeli bargaining table. The night before talks collapsed at Camp David, President Clinton offered the sides the following plan: The Palestinians would receive sovereignty over northeastern Jerusalem, perhaps including an airport; control over Muslim and Christian quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, on the site where Christians believe Jesus died; and the Temple Mount. In return, Palestinians would have had to allow Israel to annex parts of the West Bank settled by Israelis.  Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s team apparently took to the deal–a historically significant advance in itself. Palestinian negotiators suggested the plan didn’t go far enough. The story’s dramatic headline, “Unique Opportunity Lost at Camp David,” is misleading because, as the paper (and a NYT “Week in Review” piece) reports, negotiations will continue immediately. The piece ends with a top Palestinian negotiator saying the rivals are closer than ever to an agreement.

Federal security crackdowns at the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear research centers are driving away specialists and scaring off potential job applicants, the LAT reports. Nearly 190 people have left Los Alamos this year, including 96 scientists and engineers (out of thousands). That’s about 40 people short of the number who left during all of 1999 or 1998. Racial profiling of scientists who maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal–Asian-Americans have been sought out disproportionately–has become “almost tantamount to ethnic cleansing,” Los Alamos’ security director said. (By comparison, a NYT “Week in Review” photo spread of the clothes and possessions that belonged to Muslims massacred at Srebrenica in 1995 shows the hyperbole required to equate racial discrimination with racial genocide.)

The NYTMagazine cover, a close-up of local U.S. Senate candidate Rick Lazio against a white background, above the headline “The Anti-Hillary,” surreptitiously plays on a May 1999 cover: Chuck Close’s portrait of Hillary Clinton, against a black background.

David Brooks of the Weekly Standard ribs those “pinkos at The Nation,” his political and commercial competitors, in a nostalgic, mournful reflection on the United States’ decaying Protestant aristocracy–and the educated class of “bourgeois bohemians” that has supplanted it. He wrote the Post op-ed piece upon learning that Republican convention planners exiled Nation magazine reporters to an inn 13 miles from the city, in the ritzy suburbs immortalized by Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story. These suburbs house the sort of folk who don’t emblazon cars with bumper stickers, he writes, but whose stickers might read “‘Never dip into principal’” if they did. Brooks praises WASPs’ characteristic, gentle self-parody as he conjures a fantasy conversion of the pagan Nation reporters.

Non sequitur of the week: Geraldine Fabrikant of the NYT profiles “curly-haired, slinky star and producer” Sarah Jessica Parker on the front of the “Money and Business” section. The piece is a conundrum by design and–running a full page–breadth. A photo caption smacks of dadaism: “As an investor, Sarah Jessica Parker remembers that she wasn’t always rich. She was an Emmy nominee last year.” Today’s Papers looks forward to reading a Times “Arts & Leisure” spread on Alan Greenspan: “As a comedian, Alan Greenspan remembers crowds didn’t always laugh. He raised interest rates three times last year. Now they do.”

Missed that one: Nobody’s perfect–and deadlines have a way of capping the amount of time journalists (present company included) can spend on an article–but floating punctuation and errant letters turn up in privileged places more and more at the NYT. Here’s the last phrase of a paragraph on today’s front (local early edition only), from the piece about Republican donors’ perks in Philly: “the financial backbone of the modern Republican Party. r” Sarah Jessica Parker, the paper reports (see above), is married to actor Matthew Broderick; always, er, usually a stickler for courtesy titles, the Times slips in a “Miss,” rather than “Ms.,” halfway through.