Today's Papers

Extensions and Conventions

The Los Angeles Timesand the New York Times lead with Sen. (and still-“presumptive” nominee for president) John Kerry’s call to keep the 9/11 commission alive for “at least another 18 months” so they can ensure the implementation of their recommendations for intelligence reform while the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journalworld-wide news box go up high with summaries of the second night of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. USA Today splits the difference by splaying the middle of Page One with a big convention photo package but leads with Kerry’s request to extend the bipartisan panel’s charter, which is scheduled to expire Aug. 26.

All the papers note that Kerry’s exhortation to extend the panel’s term is part of an escalating battle between the presidential campaigns over national security, while both the WP (which stuffs its piece) and the LATnote that the congressional intelligence oversight committees have moved up the date of the hearings quickly scheduled during next month’s August recess in order to rapidly process the commission’s policy prescriptions. The NYT ‘s lede quotes Kerry accusing the administration of being deliberately sluggish in its response to the commission and juxtaposes Kerry’s full-throated support of the panel’s recommendations and attacks on the president with the administration’s decision to postpone immediate support of the panel’s biggest reform suggestions and Vice President Dick Cheney’s Monday remarks painting Kerry as weak on terror. The LAT emphasizes the rising clout of the commission, pointing out that “the mere suggestion that a blue-ribbon panel become a semi-permanent part of the landscape demonstrated the surprising political effect the commission has managed to wield since it published its final report last week.” USAT, citing Commissioner Jaime Gorelick, points out that the commission has raised some private foundation cash and has already agreed to issue a follow-up report next year.

Everyone’s convention catch-all goes up high with Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama’s keynote address advocating “a politics of hope” and Teresa Heinz Kerry’s autobiographical-detail-laden finale, along with hometown Sen. Edward Kennedy’s stemwinder, which—(as both the NYT and WP note)—received less applause than “rising star” Obama. Also widely noted: Howard Dean’s short, restrained address supporting John Kerry earlier in the evening and Ron Reagan Jr.’s plea on behalf of embryonic stem-cell research. (Click here for Slate’s Will Saletan’s impressions of the big speeches.)

Buried beneath the obvious—Democratic conventioneers really, really dislike the Bushes but really, really like the Clintons and/or Michael Moore, and John Edwards rose to prominence really, really quickly—lie some interesting stories: the fact that lobbyists are using loopholes in McCain-Feingold to work politicians hard at the convention, a profile of a Silicon Valley millionaire trying to muscle his way into the upper echelon of Democratic Party donors, and articles from the NYT, WSJ, and LATfocusing on John Kerry’s need and desire to sell his brand of foreign policy, which all the papers agree is “internationalist” (or, as the WSJ  puts it in their headline, “broad and vague”). Everyone notes that the first night at the convention had fewer TV viewers than four years ago, seemingly validating the Big Three’s decision to severely curtail their coverage. However, none of the papers compare the ratings for the Clintons’ speeches to the ratings that the stations’ normal midsummer programming usually receives.

In slightly different convention news reported by the WP, Iraq’s national conference scheduled for later this week, in which 1,000 delegates will select a 100-member interim legislature, has hit a few snags. The mildly sanguine headline (“KEY IRAQI CONFERENCE ON TRACK TO OPEN: DELEGATES WILL CHOOSE INTERM OVERSIGHT BODY”) belies the more problematic reality revealed in the piece: The conference chairman admits that he needs the U.N.’s help, and they’ve asked him to delay the conference; the site hasn’t been revealed; places such as the disputed city of Kirkuk have been unable to settle upon the ethnic makeup of their delegation while major religious groups, both Sunni and Shiite, are refusing to participate due to the impression of American influence.

An excellent Page One piece in the WP highlights the effects of Baghdad’s electricity troubles and energy rationing, from higher food prices—because the ice factories have had to pay for generators, the price for ice, and thus the price for storing food, has risen—to a rage against the interim government similar to the opposition to the occupation forces that emerged last summer after a series of blackouts.

None of the papers was able to flag a 2:30 a.m. ET car bombing at a Baquba police station that killed at least 15 people.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei withdrew the resignation he submitted to President Yasser Arafat 10 days ago. Qurei resigned after interfactional violence and chaos erupted in the Gaza Strip amid protests against corruption among the security forces. In exchange for Qurei’s return, Arafat pledged to streamline 12 different Palestinian security agencies into three larger forces, one directly controlled by Qurei. While all the papers note that Arafat did not propose a timetable and likely will not cede any control to Qurei, only the NYT points out that the agency designated for Qurei will be controlled by a well-known Arafat loyalist.

A 42-count indictment and subsequent arrests of the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation is fronted by the WP and reeferedby the NYT. The foundation, which was the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. before the government shut it down in the wake of 9/11, and its leaders are accused of funneling money to educational and health organizations in the Palestinian territories that actually served as a front for Hamas. The foundation’s members are pledging innocence and claim that the FBI’s accusations are reliant on bogus translations from Hebrew. The papers all skim over the claims of mistranslation, but yesterday’s NYT, before anyone had been individually charged, detailed the formal complaint that the charity lodged with the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The WP notes that U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is planning today to issue an urgent appeal for donor nations to help fund relief in the Darfur region of Sudan, which has been torn by a campaign of genocide against local tribes. Annan asked for $350 million in March but has only received half of his request. Many Arab countries claim to be comfortable giving money directly to the Sudanese government while European nations point to the $250 million provided by the European Union. The U.S. has pledged to cover 45 percent of the U.N.’s budget for this effort.