Today's Papers

This Is Your Candidate on Drugs

The New York Times leads with speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s proposal that congressional Republicans sign off on a Democratic bill raising the minimum wage $1 over the next two years to $6.15 per hour and drop the repeal of the estate tax in return for some tax cuts for small businesses. The story mentions that the repeal has already moved through Congress but doesn’t explain why dropping isn’t a moot point. And the headline doesn’t even mention the estate tax element. The Washington Post leads with Al Gore’s campaign swing into retiree-dense Florida and a multimillion-dollar ad blitz, both of which are emphasizing his vow to reduce the cost to senior citizens of prescription drugs. The USA Today lead also focuses on the issue. The Los Angeles Times leads with a judge’s unprecedented ruling that the LAPD can be sued as a racketeering enterprise by people who claim their civil rights were violated by officers. This could, the paper explains, dramatically raise L.A.’s liability exposure since the applicable federal racketeering statute allows for triple damage awards.

In contrast to the WP lead, which gives no hard numbers at all for the Bush drug plan and suggests there are none to be had yet, USAT’s lead supplies a couple, such as a ceiling on out-of-pocket expenses of $6,000, compared with $4,000 for the Gore plan. But it’s far from clear from the story however which seniors would not be liable for these full amounts. Both USAT and the WP say that because of the senior vote, Gore thinks he can win in Florida, a state, the Post reminds, that was recently considered a lock for Bush, whose brother is the governor. The top of the Wall Street Journal’s front-page news box flags its story about the drug benefit ad war, which like the others, gives the impression that the Gore program is more detailed but, also like the others, doesn’t do much to show those details. In other words, today at least, the papers are letting the ads do most of the talking.

The LAT is alone in fronting yesterday’s developments from a conference in Tanzania aimed at settling the seven-year civil war in Central Africa, a conference attended by President Clinton and Nelson Mandela. After what the paper calls respective “good cop-bad cop speeches” by the two, all the attending parties except the smallest ethnic Tutsi tribes decided to sign a peace accord. However, this holdout is significant, says the LAT, because the Tutsi minority dominates in Rwanda and Burundi.

The WP off-leads the topsy-turvy world of online cigarette sales. Topsy-turvy, the piece explains, because prices are much lower than off-line, but states are working hard to reverse the ordinary economics of the Web to suppress this form of t-commerce by pushing to collect taxes on it. California and Washington state, for instance, use an obscure law to get sites to produce buyers’ names and addresses who are then dunned. And New York has flatly outlawed Internet cig sales.

A WP inside piece wonders if Joe Lieberman’s rather open infusion of religion into politics will fly in ways it has not in the hands of Christian conservatives. The story says that so far polls suggest yes, with much of the public unconcerned about the prominence religion is now having. This comes on the heels of a number of stories in recent days celebrating Lieberman’s religiosity. But the story has to change and perhaps the leading edge of that change is already here: The NYT reports inside that the Anti-Defamation League has called on Lieberman to stop making overt expressions of religious belief on the campaign trail. Such appeals, says the ADL, risk alienating people and also run “contrary to the American ideal.” A sign that the press was buying into Lieberman’s sanctimony too much was last Friday’s reverential front-page WSJ piece that portrayed as a Solomonic quest Lieberman’s attempt to get two of his cousins back into the $48 million will of his uncle, but which waited until the 17th paragraph to mention that Lieberman and his wife have been paid $200,000 in the past five years to do this. Today’s Papers doesn’t remember Solomon being on retainer.

Apparently, Slate will survive and even perhaps break even next year. That’s what it says in the WSJ anyway. Oh, OK, OK, it says that on the op-ed page. (You know, where yesterday they explained the wisdom of soaking the poor. Really.) And it was in a piece by Michael Kinsley, who runs the place. But Kinsley’s point is that if Slate makes it, it will be because in certain respects the magazine has been rather unfashionable. The credo has been emphasize content, forget the launch party, and be cheap enough to last long enough to make improvements, including Webby ones. And, by the way, have an editor in chief who can also write interesting op-eds in a newspaper. Make that newspapers: Kinsley also has one, on stem cells, in the WP and LAT today. (It’s also in Slate, click here to read it.)