Today's Papers

Exchanging Vows

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead with, and the Washington Post fronts, political analysis as this fall’s mid-term congressional and gubernatorial elections start to take shape. The Washington Post leads by saying that an Iraqi attack by the U.S. could drain Special Forces manpower and intelligence-gathering from its mission against al-Qaida and terrorism. Both the NYT and the WP agree that this election year will be different than most others. The NYT limits itself, however, to discussing campaign strategy. The paper argues that domestic concerns—corporate abuses, prescription drug costs, and Social Securit—will be taking top billing over foreign affairs, as Democrats, more comfortable with internal economic matters, set the agenda. This might not matter, says the paper, as Republican candidates seem increasingly willing to seize some of the Democrat’s same domestic issues as their own. The WP story starts out fairly similarly, saying, “Voter anxiety over the economy, health care and financial security threatens to put Republican candidates across the country on the defensive this fall.” but the paper doesn’t settle for the NYT conclusion. The WP writes, “Democratic optimism is tempered by the knowledge that the voters’ concerns of summer have been slow to coalesce into the kind of partisan anger that drove elections in the 1990s, and also by the reality that the shadow of Sept. 11 and the prospect of war with Iraq could make the fall campaigns a debate about guns as well as butter, which Republicans would prefer.” The WP then jumps ahead to examine November’s potential outcome; the paper says it doesn’t know what will happen. Whereas recognition of the diffused partisan nature of today’s political issues leads the first two papers toward conclusions of shifting strategy and/or the unpredictability of what’s going to ultimately happen in November, the LAT goes with a more straightforward model for judgment: polling. Because of economic worries, the paper says, the Democrats’ position is strengthening. Democrats have a 44 percent to 38 percent polling advantage over Republicans on which party can do a better job handling the economy. Democrats lead 47 percent to 39 percent when voters were asked which party they intend to back in November’s congressional elections. Interestingly, although all three stories take for granted voter anxiety over the nation’s economic direction, at least two indicators in the LAT poll seem to point to returning confidence. Forty-five percent say the country is on right track (up from 26 percent in a LAT poll last February) and 36 percent believe the country isn’t in a recession (up from 15 percent in February). The headline for today’s WP lead reads, “OFFICERS: IRAQ COULD DRAIN TERROR WAR.” On Feb. 24 the paper fronted an article with a subhead that read, “MILITARY NOT PRIMED FOR NEW WAR SOON.” Both stories run essentially the same point. The U.S. military might not have the resources to attack Iraq just yet. So when? The February WP story said “up to a year.” This one reads, “no attack on Iraq is likely until January at the earliest.”The papers reefer news that a 29-year-old man of Tunisian origin was arrested at a Swedish airport for having a gun in his carry-on luggage. According to Swedish intelligence and police circles, Kerim Chatty, who trained at an aviation school in the U.S., planned to seize the plane and use it to attack an American embassy in Europe. An official for Swedish security, however, is now denying an earlier wire report that Chatty was working in conspiracy with four other at-large men. The papers all front the passing of jazz legend Lionel Hampton at age 94 from heart failure. The papers say that Hampton was a virtuoso on the vibraphone, one of the last giants of jazz, the best vibes player in the business, a leading figure in the racial integration of music, one of the wealthiest men in jazz, a great philanthropist, a Howard University music teacher, a radio station music director, an active Republican, and a pioneering, dynamic showman. Inside the LAT, the paper reports that Israel yesterday killed five Palestinians when an attack helicopter fired missiles at a car in the West Bank town of Tubas. Separately, Israeli troops also said they shot and killed four Palestinian near the gravesite of a Jewish rabbi south of Hebron. Elsewhere, a Palestinian gunman attacked a Jewish settlement, wounding a couple before he was shot dead. And finally, the Israeli army reports they have arrested the top political leader of Hamas. The NYT runs a wire report and the WP stuffs this news on Page 16. Daniel Gross and Steven Goldstein are the first gay couple to appear in the NYT’s weddings section. The two affirmed their partnership in Montreal yesterday, and will exchange vows in Vermont today. Mr. Gross, the vice president of GE Capital, and Mr. Goldstein, the co-manager of Jon S. Corzine’s Senate campaign in 2000, met via the personal ads in a newspaper. The ad read: “Nice Jewish boy, 5 feet 8 inches, 22, funny, well-read, dilettantish, self-deprecating, Ivy League, the kind of boy Mom fantasized about.” Mr. Gross says that when he went home for Thanksgiving after meeting Mr. Goldstein, his mother told him, “You seem like you’re in love.” According to Mr. Gross, the conversation follows: “They said, `That’s great.’ I said, `His name is Steven.’ My mother said, `Oy,’ and was silent for a while.” Both parents now support the relationship.