Today's Papers

Hip-Hopping Mad?

USA Today leads with the increasing focus by Democrats on Ralph Nader’s threat to Al Gore, going high with weekend chat show bits: Joe Lieberman’s direct appeal to potential Nader voters claiming that their values would be in jeopardy if George W. Bush were elected, and Nader’s comment that if Gore “cannot defeat the bumbling Texas governor with that horrific record, what good is he?” The Washington Post goes with the $100 million “ground war” being conducted by Republicans, Democrats, unions, and interest groups to try to get “their” voters to the polls. Besides door knocking and mass mailings, key techniques include radio spots and the targeted telephoning of taped messages known as “robo-calls.” The story says the intensifying effort reflects a growing belief among political pros that people still undecided at this point probably won’t vote. The New York Times lead emphasizes comments made by Tipper Gore and Lieberman suggesting that George W. Bush is too inexperienced to be president. The Los Angeles Times lead is the election fight to control the next House of Representatives, which the paper says is the closest in 50 years and, indeed, too close to call.

The NYT lead observes that over the weekend Gore did not echo the comments of his wife and running mate implying that Bush didn’t have the requisite experience, even when asked to comment on the NYT editorial endorsing his candidacy, which did say precisely that. In accord with the Times’ recent coverage of the rising political involvement of Muslim interest groups, the piece also reports that Gore’s campaign day yesterday started in Michigan with a private meeting with two dozen “representatives of Arab-Americans” and that afterward six endorsed him. The paper observes that Arab-Americans are an important Michigan voting bloc and that a big concern aired in the talks was whether Gore was biased in favor of Israel.

The LAT front-pager on the presidential race puts the Arab-American meeting high up but postpones until after the jump Lieberman’s comment questioning Bush’s readiness to be president and doesn’t refer to it in the headline. Also after the jump is the paper’s mention of Lieberman’s Sunday TV admission that he is personally opposed to abortion for his wife and daughters although he backs abortion rights as a public policy.

The WP goes inside with news that the political party in Kosovo that has long advocated nonviolence appears to have prevailed in that region’s first democratic elections over the political group formed by the guerrillas who led the fight against the Serbian repression of ethnic Albanians that eventually prompted NATO’s military intervention. The NYT inside report says this means that Kosovo’s Albanians have opted for peace and stability and largely rejected “thuggery.”

The two papers also report inside that in Peru, about 60 army troops under the command of a midlevel officer have taken some hostages after apparently failing to set off a military revolt against President Alberto Fujimori.

The WP and NYT go inside to report that the badly damaged Cole was towed out of Yemen yesterday to start a long voyage back to the U.S. aboard a heavy-lift ship. The Post notes that the ship left blaring “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” and then “the rap song ‘Cowboy’ by Kid Rock.” The WP sees no significance in that last play selection. But the NYT says it was “American Bad Ass,” and that heard from shore, “it seemed encoded with defiance for violent Islamic groups, and an in-your-face exuberance at leaving Yemen.” The Post story indicates that if that feeling exists, it’s mutual: There are two Yemeni in-the-street interviews quoted in the story, and one says that “We were not comfortable with Americans on our territory. … This is an Arab country. They have no business here,” while the other says, “I got tired of looking at that American ship in our harbor.” The NYT says there have been no new breakthroughs in the investigation of the bombing because something called “a Yemeni security police embargo” has severely curtailed the FBI’s role. In its front-pager, USAT is clearer on this: “friction” between the FBI and Yemen’s police has slowed the investigation, with the bone of contention being that the FBI wants to be in on questioning suspects.

The umpteenth new release of Nixon quotes gets a write-up in the WP hinterlands. In its headline and its high-up play, the story pushes Nixon’s excitement at his “masterstroke” of his nominations of Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist. The paper notes that Nixon was “especially pleased” about Rehnquist, who H.R. Haldeman is heard to describe as “way to the right of Buchanan.” And then there’s some bureaucratic infighting between Henry Kissinger and Bill Rogers. But why wait until the last paragraph–the last sentence–to mention Nixon’s description of the U.N., which includes his reference to a “bunch of goddamned Africans and cannibals”?

This past Sunday’s NYT magazine elicits some anti-terror tips from experts in the field. The advice includes: Don’t go waving your passport around. Don’t wear khakis because only American tourists seem to. If you’re arrested and interrogated, agree with them. Not all the advice seems that take-worthy: One guy says if you’re concerned about people snooping around in your room while you’re out, leave a voice-activated tape recorder in your drawer. Make that if you’re concerned, and you don’t want maid service. And by the way, if you thought you were gonna have trouble with the authorities in East Tyrannia before, wait till they find a running tape recorder in your drawer.