Today's Papers

Tough as Iraq

Everybody except the New York Times leads in one way or another with Iraq.The Los Angeles Times’ lead, citing “U.S. officials,” says that the administration is exploring the idea of calling for new, super-tough inspection protocols. The paper says one idea being tossed around is to have soldiers, either U.S. or multinational, accompany inspectors so that if that Iraq refuses to open certain sites (as they have in the past), then the troops could shoot their way in. The Washington Post and USA Today both lead with Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comments yesterday in which he acknowledged during a chat with reporters that there are “some real” differences in the administration about how to deal with Saddam and promised that the prez will lay out the U.S.’s approach “in the very near future.” The NYT leads with word that Andrew Cuomo pulled out of the race yesterday for the Democratic nomination for New York governor. Cuomo, who was the head of HUD in the Clinton administration, and whose dad, Mario, was once New York’s governor, was trailing way behind his opponent in next week’s primary. The Times calls the pullout, which was pushed by Democratic leaders, a “spectacular humiliation” for Cuomo.

The LAT’s lead on the potential toughie inspections is a good story. One quibble: The article doesn’t try to do a reality check on the Dirty Harry ideas. What, for example, do former inspectors or other experts think is the likelihood that Iraq, or even the U.N., might agree to them?

Here’s the Powell quote on Iraq strategy that the papers grab onto: “I think there are lots of differences—some are real, some are perceived, some are over-hyped.” The NYT and USAT both note the hedginess of that statement and keep the “differences” out of their respective headlines. Actually, USAT’s subhead goes too far the other way: “Bush Says Cabinet Working ‘In Harmony.’ ” The Post, meanwhile, plays up the dissension factor (with an added dose of grammatical ambiguity): “POWELL CITES ‘REAL’ DIVIDE INTERNALLY ON IRAQ POLICY.”

The Wall Street Journal tops it world-wide newsbox with, and the NYT off-leads, word that President Bush is going have congressional leaders over for a visit today in order to explain to them why Saddam needs to be booted. The papers emphasize that the even some Republicans have been unimpressed with the White House’s overall Iraq pitch. “I do think that we’re going to have to get a more coherent message together,” said Senate Republican leader Trent Lott.

Everybody notes that White House spokesman Ari Fleischer tried to clear up confusion about the administration’s position. “The policy of the United States is regime change, with or without inspectors,” said Fleischer, who also noted, “The president believes the weapons inspectors need to be let back in.”

The Journal goes high with the results of a new poll that found that 60 percent of Europeans would support an invasion of Iraq so long as it’s authorized by the United Nations. Sixty-five percent of respondents in the U.S. said the same thing. The lesson? “We’re not wimps,” said one European analyst. The Post also fronts the poll but emphasizes the survey’s broader findings that Europeans and Americans actually agree on lots of foreign policy stuff. For example, the poll found that 77 percent of Americans and 76 percent of Europeans think that the “United Nations needs to be strengthened.” (Here’s a link to the poll itself. By the way, the papers generally, including today, don’t include links to the polls they’re writing about. They should.)

Everybody notes that the stock market got walloped yesterday. The Dow dived 355 points, or about 4 percent. Analysts said traders were particularly bummed out by newly released weak manufacturing figures.

The Post fronts, and the others stuff, news that three of the four people who received organs from a woman who was later found to have had West Nile virus have themselves now tested positive for the disease. That finding suggests, obviously, that the virus can be spread through organ transplants.

USAT continues its multipart package on what happened in the World Trade Center in the minutes after the planes hit. Today’s piece looks at the elevator lobby on the 78th floor of the south tower, the deadliest spot in that building. Two hundred people were there when the plane hit; 12 survived. (By the way, yesterday Today’s Papers pointed out that the NYT has run a similar minute-by-minute type recollection; TP—which admits to being less than omniscient, and to utter reliance on easily searchable phrases in Nexis—should’ve noted that USAT did one well before the Times’ effort. Of course, that just  highlights the fact that there have been a number of these data-dump-type stories about the WTC; it’s getting harder for them to say something new.)

According to reports inside the papers, anthrax “person of interest” Steven Hatfill was fired from his job as a researcher at Louisiana State University yesterday. “The university is making no judgment as to Dr. Hatfill’s guilt or innocence regarding the F.B.I. investigation,” said the school’s chancellor. “[But] I have concluded that it is clearly in the best interest of L.S.U. to terminate this relationship.”

The WP’s op-ed page has another anti-invasion installment from a Reagan-era appointee. The newest refusenik: Former Secretary of the Navy James Webb, who writes that the U.S. had better be prepared “to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years.” Remember, he says, “wars often have unintended consequences.”

The NYT’s Tom Friedman does a 9/11 lesson plan and suggests readers check out an old column by the Weekly Standard’s Larry Miller, who wrote, “We’re good, they’re evil, nothing is relative. After all, no matter what your daughter’s political science professor says, we didn’t start this.” Tell that to the Europeans who responded to the poll mentioned earlier. According to the Post, 55 percent of them “agreed that U.S. foreign policy contributed to the Sept. 11 attacks.”