Today's Papers

Hope Fiend

Everyone leads with Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards’ keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in Boston and the subsequent official nomination of John Kerry as the party’s presidential candidate.

Fawning over the speech (“tightly argued,” “soaring,” and more “soaring“) and over the former trial lawyer’s “courtroom skills,” all the papers focus on Edwards’ relentless optimism—he declared that “hope is on the way” multiple times and promised that Kerry would unite “two Americas” into one—and  portrayal of Kerry’s Vietnam service as evidence of his ability to be a “decisive” leader. The Washington Post points out that “Edwards never mentioned Bush or Cheney by name—a departure from the traditional vice presidential role of leading the attack against the opposition” but did slyly remark that the Democratic nominee “understands personally about fighting in a war.” The veep nominee rolled out elements of the Democratic ticket’s domestic and foreign policy: tax credits for college and child care funded by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans and a promise that Kerry would restore American “respect in the world” and—hitting a hawkish note—telling al-Qaida that “You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you.” (Click here for a transcript of the speech, and here and here for Slate’s on-location impressions.)

Edwards will be officially nominated as the vice presidential candidate tomorrow, when John Kerry (who arrived last night in Boston Harbor on a boat with fellow Vietnam vets) will deliver his highly awaited nomination-acceptance speech. The WP previews the speech—which will likely be highly biographical and focused on selling Kerry as an electable persona (which a Los Angeles Times analysis argues is necessary)—by detailing how Kerry has been refining it for the past month with the help of a limited selection of speechwriters. Another piece in the WP teases out a subtle message from Kerry’s stump and policy speeches: The nominee, under a guise of looking toward the future, is banking on voters desiring a restoration of the successful policy approaches of the 1990s. Prowling the convention scene, the New York Times looks at delegates who also double as leaders of non-campaign-affiliated political action committees, Al Sharpton’s mainstream acceptance after his thunderously applauded Wednesday night speech, and the frequent back-handed digs at Republicans that speakers at the convention have been consistently delivering.

All the papers front information on yesterday’s suicide car-bombing outside a Baquba, Iraq, police station where 500 men were in line to apply for a job. The bomb, which killed at least 70 people three days before the start of a 1,000-delegate national conference that plans to select a 100 member interim legislature, is the first car-bombing and the deadliest attack since official sovereignty was transferred to an Iraqi-controlled interim government on June 28. The NYT also gives a lot of play in its Iraq catch-all to the apparent deaths of two Pakistani contractors who were kidnapped a couple of days ago by unknown insurgents. The LAT has an interesting piece on Ahmad Chalabi’s newest self-reinvention as a Shiite populist reaching out to Moqtada al-Sadr. It’s unclear whether or not Chalabi (who is trying to organize Shiites left out of the interim government and may appeal to some Iraqis thanks to his lack of connections with the Hussein regime and recent squabble with the U.S.) actually has any popular support.

The NYT runs a front-pager on the Bush administration’s continued debate over which of the 9/11 Commission recommendations to immediately attempt to enact, specifically focusing on the possibility that the intelligence budget will no longer be strictly classified. The WP examines the reduction of CIA influence that implementation of the recommended reforms would entail and reports that President Bush will announce within days his official response to the commission’s work. Special Senate hearings, specifically scheduled to consider the commission’s work, which will interview panel members along with other intelligence officials, begin on Friday.

Both the NYT and the WP look at yesterday’s 2.5 percent surge in oil-barrel prices, amid fears that Yukos, the Russian oil giant that is currently sparring with President Vladimir Putin, would stop exporting. The fear stems from a confusing give-and-take that started with the company’s announcement that the Russian government had ordered its subsidiaries to stop selling assets. It warned that unless the order was clarified they would soon stop selling crude. Russia denied that the exports would stop, and both papers report that the chances of cessation are “remote.” Both papers indicate—quoting the same analyst—that the rising prices have more to do with concern of instability in the Middle East, Nigeria, and Venezuela than with concerns about any Russian company.

The WP reports that Afghanistan interim President Hamid Karzai’s foreign minister broke ranks with him and pledged support to Education Minister Yonus Qanooni in the upcoming national election, where there are 23 candidates for president. Qanooni challenged Karzai after the president dropped Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim as his running mate. All three Karzai rivals played a large role in the Northern Alliance, but none of the papers give any substantive analysis to the political tension between Karzai’s faction and Alliance members. In other Afghanistan news, the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders withdrew from Afghanistan because they felt U.S. policy had put them in a vulnerable position, while a bomb killed 6 people at a mosque in the city of Ghazni where U.N. workers were registering voters.

Looking at Colin Powell’s trip through the Middle East, the LAT and WP examine Saudi Arabia’s discussions about the possibility of a force made up of soldiers from Muslim countries to be sent to Iraq to assuage concerns about U.S. imperiousness. The NYT highlights a unique meeting between the Secretary of State and Egyptian civic activists in Cairo about democratic reform in the region.

The WP points out that a former Boeing CFO is scheduled for a plea hearing next month, where he is expected to admit to recruiting an Air Force officer with a lucrative contract while the same officer was overseeing a $23.5 billion tanker-leasing with the company deal. While the official, Michael Sears, will probably not implicate anyone else, he is “first senior executive at a major Pentagon contractor to be charged with a felony in a generation” and may act as a beachhead for investigators who are trying to crack down on the conflict-of-interest problems that permeate Department of Defense contractors.

Just like that Jeopardy! guy! … The NYT explores the predictable culture clash that a Mormon Temple has caused in an Illinois town: Locals think Mormons are weird, but they’ve been a boon for the local economy. Inside the piece, however, a local Mormon leader’s defense of his church’s presence eerily reminds TP of Jeopardy! record holder Ken Jennings, possibly the most famous Mormon in the U.S.: “There’s a certain fear that our presence here is a tad too dominant … [b]ut we’re a peaceful group. We obey rules. Maybe the good example is irritating.”