Today's Papers

Bearing Up

[Due to staffing issues, a full Today’s Papers will not appear today. The following are today’s lead stories.]

The New York Timesleads with an analysis of whether the Democrats will benefit as much as they hope to from the current wave of corporate scandals.The Washington Post leads with news that federal spending hasn’t given the Washington area economy the boost that was expected. The Los Angeles Times leads, at least online, with an ill-fated breeding experiment in Dubai—a camel-llama cross.

The NYT’sAdam Nagourney, reporting from a meeting of the National Governors’ Association in Boise, Idaho, says Democrats are bent on using the wave of corporate abuses and the Republicans’ traditional association with big business to their advantage in this fall’s elections. It’s not clear whether they’ll be able to do that, though, and they face several risks: They don’t want to appear opportunistic or anti-Wall Street, and when it comes to taking corporate donations, most Democratic officials are just as guilty as their Republican colleagues. In the end, whether the Dems benefit from the business scandals will probably depend on what the stock market’s doing in October. If it’s back up and the economy is doing well, this issue will likely disappear. But if the market’s still down, Democrats could be especially effective at targeting older voters worried about their retirement savings.

The Post identifies several factors in the Washington economy’s slow recovery: Government contractors haven’t hired as many people as was expected to fight the war on terrorism, and many of those they have hired work by computer from outside the area, even as far away as California. Also, the collapse of the telecom industry has crippled related businesses. And the commercial real-estate market is still down because even companies starting to hire already have more than enough office space.

The British scientist who created “Rama,” the first cama, was trying to combine a camel’s speed and toughness with a llama’s soft fur. The real motivation, though, seems to have been the novelty of the project, and like most hubristic experiments it has a pretty depressing end: Rama isn’t as big as hoped, doesn’t have lovely llama fur, and didn’t have an appropriate mate until his inventors produced a girl cama to be his infant bride. Saddest of all to anyone interested in either child development or animal psychology, Rama has an aggressive and hostile personality; he refuses to be touched, instead charging at people or biting them. “He doesn’t have a social association with anything,” the camel veterinarian to the royal family of Dubai says. “That might be the reason he is nasty.”

The NYT and the Post both go above the fold with stories on the stock market’s devastating slide. The Post says this puts the technology and telecommunications bubble in the same category as the Tulip Mania of 17th-century Holland and the South Sea bubble in 18th-century England. And most experts don’t think the market has hit bottom yet. “The bottom comes when no one is talking about it anymore and no one thinks there will ever be a bottom,” a strategist for Merrill Lynch said.

The NYT’s piece describes the market’s impact on older Americans, some of whom lost most of their retirement savings and have found themselves mortgaging houses and going back to work. All are disappointed to be forced to give up their retirement dreams, but some are also ashamed to have been so blindly confident of their investments. “It was to some extent delusional, thinking this thing would turn around and come back,” one man said. “It hadn’t happened in my lifetime, that kind of demise. I was born during the Depression, but I wasn’t old enough to understand it.”