Today's Papers

Coasting Coast to Coast

Everybody banners or leads with Sen. Kerry’s romp, which prompted Sen. Edwards to drop out. Kerry won big in most states and lost only in Vermont, where ghost Howard Dean got his first victory. (Edwards didn’t run there.) Edwards came closest in Georgia, losing by about four points. The Los Angeles Times’ banner includes Kerry’s victories, but the lead story goes with California voters’ passage of a $15 billion bond measure that had been pushed by Gov. Schwarzenegger to help deal with the state’s deficit.  

As the papers all note, President Bush called Kerry to congratulate him. “We had a very nice conversation,” Kerry recounted. “I said, ‘I hope we have a great debate about the issues before the country.’ ” Bush plans to air his first campaign ads tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the two Johns spoke lovingly about each other. Kerry “has been an extraordinary advocate for causes that all of us believe in,” said Edwards. “We will prevail … come November, you and I together.” Kerry called Edwards a “champion” of important values.

Looking at the exit polls, the New York Times says Kerry did well among “virtually every category of Democratic voter coast to coast.” Kerry also polled better than Edwards among independents in California and a few other states though Edwards won that battle—if it’s even considered that— in some states too.

The Washington Post emphasizes that voters again saw “electability” as a key Kerry asset. (Slate’s Will Saletan notices that voters also really liked Kerry’s “experience.”) Meanwhile, a Post editorial complains about how Democrat Pooh-Bahs “frontloaded” the primaries—that is, packed them in early and tight—arguing that such a quick race makes self-fulfilling momentum more likely.

An op-ed in the NYT suggests that Kerry’s running mate should be southern, a smooth talker, and born poor. That’s right: Bill Clinton

Everybody fronts the series of suicide and mortar attacks on Shiite worshippers in Baghdad and Karbala that killed at least 143 and wounded about 400. It was the deadliest day since Saddam fell. After the attacks, bystanders at one site threw rocks at arriving U.S. troops. And Shiite leaders criticized the U.S. for offering insufficient protection and for not allowing Shiite militias to roam. American commanders retorted that they had been keeping away from religious sites at the request of Shiite leaders.

Some U.S. officials suggested that Islamic militant Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi was behind the attacks, though intel officials and commanders in the field acknowledged that they really had no idea.

In Pakistan, gunmen attacked a religious gathering, killing about 40 Shiites. U.S. intel officials said the incident doesn’t appear to be connected to Iraq and was the latest in a series of sectarian attacks.

With a continuing power vacuum in Haiti, the NYT says the country “seemed to be falling into the clutches of a self-appointed armed junta.” A rebel leader pronounced himself head of Haiti’s army, which had been abolished. “I am the chief,” said Guy Philippe, a repeated coup-plotter and long suspected of drug smuggling. “The country is in my hands.” The U.S. said it wouldn’t stand for that. “The rebels do not have a role in the political process,” said a State Dept. spokesman.

Marines in the capital stuck around the airport and weren’t interested in confrontation. “I have no instructions to disarm the rebels,” said the U.S. commander in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti’s chief justice, who ostensibly became president after Aristide left, hasn’t been seen since the weekend. “There is no state right now,” said one American analyst. Haiti’s former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier, better known as Baby Doc, said he’s returning to the country. He explained that he just wants to help out.

Everybody goes high with NASA’s announcement that one of its Mars rovers has found evidence that the planet was once “drenched” in water. That makes it much more likely that there were once living things on Mars.

Most of the papers front the feds throwing the book at former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers, charging him with securities fraud. WorldCom booked at least $11 billion false earnings and is the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Ebbers’ former CFO turned state’s evidence and pleaded guilty.

The Post notices that after yesterday’s series of bombings, the Pentagon decided to emphasize the positive. Its “Iraq Fact of the Day” announced: “Thousands of children throughout Iraq will soon be able to participate in an Iraqi Boy Scout and Girl Scout program.”