Today's Papers

Das Boot

Everybody leads with Californians tossing of Gov. Gray Davis and their big bear hug of Arnold. With slightly more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, 54 percent of voters supported the recall and about 48 went for Schwarzenegger, roughly 18 points ahead of his nearest opponent, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. Davis becomes only the second governor in U.S. history to be recalled. Turnout was about 60 percent, midway between attendance for the last gubernatorial election and the last presidential one.

As the  Los Angeles Times emphasizes, about 20 percent of Democrats abandoned Davis while three-fourths of all voters told exit poll people (who the media are using again) that Davis had the state on the wrong track. Schwarzenegger will take office once the vote is certified, which could take a few weeks (LAT) to about one month (New York Times).

Yesterday, the NYT highlighted  election officials’ concerns that the vote could turn into a big, drawn-out, mess. Slate,indirectly, also raised that possibility.

Today’s NYT notes that for all ridicule of and fretting about the super-sized 135-candidate ballot, many voters didn’t seem too confused. “It took two seconds,” said one. “I don’t know what all the fuss was about.”

In a point that all the papers hammer, soon-to-be Gov. Schwarzenegger is going to find it darn difficult, if not impossible, to deliver on campaign (near-)promises not to raise taxes or cut services. California already has an $8 billion deficit for next year and, as the Wall Street Journal points out, Arnold’s first promised act will deepen that hole: He says he’s going to rescind the recently passed $4 billion car-tax increase, which the WSJ says “helped close the current year’s deficit, and helps fund local police and fire-fighting costs.”

The Washington Post says exit polls show that 61 percent of Schwarzenegger supporters are smoking something strong, or more exactly, the supporters “said they believe he can erase multibillion-dollar deficits without raising taxes, a feat that even some of his top economic advisers have questioned.”

Three more years of this? The Journal begins its recall coverage, “Arnold Schwarzenegger played the Terminator again …”

The LAT and WP fronts word that Turkey’s parliament, in a major policy reversal, agreed to send troops to Iraq. It not clear yet how many troops will go or when. Iraq’s Governing Council said it opposes the deployment. But the GC put off a vote on it after what the Post calls “U.S. pressure.”

What Turkey gets in return: The Journal noticed last month that the U.S. has agreed to give Turkey an $8 billion loan guarantee  in return for what was then “unspecified help.” The LAT notes that administration officials say there’s no connection. Also, the WP notices the Turkish prime minister’s suggestion that he “expects” (WP) the U.S. to go after Kurdish militants in northern Iraq who’ve been fighting Turkey. Columnist William Safire, in the only significant NYT coverage of the Turkish vote, says the U.S. has “promised to help suppress” the Kurdish militant group.

Everybody notes inside that three GIs in Iraq were killed yesterday in attacks. There were also two riots in Baghdad, one by former secret police demanding jobs and another by about 500 people after a radical cleric was arrested for, the WP says, “allegedly advocating a holy war against occupation forces.”

The NYT off-leads word that the U.S. may just shelve its proposed Security Council resolution on Iraq. The proposal, which doesn’t give significant power to the U.N. and doesn’t map out a quick handover to Iraqi sovereignty, never garnered much support.

A Page One NYT piece says “several” portable anti-aircraft missiles have been fired at planes landing recently at Baghdad International. Authorities have been stunned by the number of such missiles stored around Iraq. Despite the Times above-the-fold play, most of the missiles found, SA-7s, are old and fairly ineffective.

The NYT notes inside that NATO has decided in principle to expand its Afghan peacekeeping force beyond Kabul. The extent of the enlargement is still up in the air.

The WP profiles Valerie Plame, the spook who seems to have been outed by somebody in the administration. It turns out that contrary to initial assertions, she was really undercover—and an expert with AK-47s.

In an interview picked up by the Post, the Financial Times and a few other European publications talked with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who said he wasn’t consulted in the management shakeup of the Iraq reconstruction effort. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who’s overseeing the new management, told Monday’s NYT that Rummy was consulted.

Anyway, Rumsfeld insisted the shakeup isn’t a shakeup and is just a continuation of the current structure. Asked why the White House is pitching it as shakeup, Rumsfeld replied, “I said I don’t know. Isn’t that clear? You don’t understand English?”