Today's Papers

Republican No. 2

Everybody leads with the defiantly partisan speech Dick Cheney gave last night upon being nominated by acclamation in Philadelphia. And the convention coverage mentions that the prognosis is good for Gerald Ford after he suffered one or two mini-strokes while attending the GOP convention the night before last.

The papers all note that Cheney’s speech marked a break with the preceding days’ temperate tone. Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times observe that the speech made it clear that the Bush campaign intends to use Cheney in the traditional running mate’s role of attacker. USA Today says Cheney spoke with “blunt disdain” for President Clinton and Al Gore. The coverage makes it clear that Cheney relied heavily on the by-now familiar stealth mudslinging technique of references to the imminent restoration of honor and decency and integrity to the Oval Office.

Everybody notes that Cheney’s claim that “It is time for them to go” was a conscious allusion to Gore’s 1992 Democratic convention reference to former President Bush and his ilk. The LAT says Cheney painted a “relentlessly downbeat portrait” of the last eight years, emphasizing “a depleted military, failing public schools, [and] a Social Security system heading towards insolvency.” Most papers quote Cheney’s question, “Does anyone, Republican or Democrat, seriously believe that under Mr. Gore the next four years will be any different than the last eight?” An inside WP story makes the point that Bill Clinton’s recent remarks about Bush père and fils have upset some Gore aides who fear they risk making the election more about Clinton’s personality than about Gore’s agenda.

Several papers quote Cheney’s remark that “They will make accusations. We will make proposals. They will feed fear. We will appeal to hope,” but none make the obvious observation that Cheney’s speech was all accusations and no proposals.

The Washington Post and NYT emphasize much apparent warmth between George W. Bush and John McCain at an event yesterday afternoon. But the Wall Street Journal reports that the Bush team made it clear that they didn’t want McCain staying in town for Bush’s acceptance speech tonight, apparently after a focus group of swing voters indicated that it thought McCain’s speech the other night in praise of Bush was insincere.

Another in the series of NYT George W. Bush biography articles claims–on the front page–that Bush is “almost an accidental candidate, a cocky and cheerful fellow who drifted through much of his life,” who will, if elected, have “one of the thinnest résumés in public service of any president in the last century.”

Yesterday’s USAT fronted the news that federal safety regulators are investigating some models of Firestone tires thought to have been implicated in 21 traffic deaths and some 193 accidents, most of them involving Ford Explorer SUVs. As a result, today the paper has a Ford VP saying that the company might drop Bridgestone/Firestone as a supplier.

George Will makes an interesting observation about Al Gore’s vice-presidential pickings. George W. Bush’s selection of Dick Cheney puts the Gulf War on the table in a powerful way that tends to make it tougher for Gore to choose any of the 45 Democratic senators who voted no on the use of force against Saddam Hussein. And that number includes John Kerry, George Mitchell, and Sam Nunn. On the other hand, Joseph Lieberman and Bob Graham were, like Gore, among the 10 Democrats who voted for force.

The WP reports that a study coming out today in the British Medical Journal concludes that quitting smoking even as late as age 50 still substantially reduces the risk of getting cancer.

Judging from a NYT op-ed by Washington political ethics czar Charles Lewis, don’t look for Dick Cheney to champion campaign-finance reform. In the piece, Lewis rehearses Al Gore’s involvement in White House fund-raising coffees and his equally dubious visit to that Buddhist monastery. But the new news of the piece is that in the five years that Cheney ran the oil services company Haliburton, the firm received $2.3 billion in federal contracts, up from $1.2 billion for the five years just before he got there, and received $1.5 billion in loans, compared to $100 million in the five years before. Is it a coincidence, Lewis asks, that during Cheney’s tenure the company has given $1.2 million to the two political parties and individual members of Congress? And, he adds, during this same time frame Cheney’s personal wealth ballooned to $50 million.