Everybody leads with the opening of the Republican National Convention, which featured repeated invocations of 9/11 and two big speakers: Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, who focused on defending Bush as well as the invasion of Iraq. The former mayor took some serious whacks at President Bush’s opponent. “Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores,” said Giuliani. “John Kerry’s record of inconsistent positions on combating terrorism gives us no confidence he’ll pursue such a determined course.” Giuliani also had a positive message. As the twin towers shook, he recalled, “Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said, ‘Thank God George Bush is our president.’ ”
In a front-page piece, the New York Timestakes a seemingly horrified gander at the GOP’s official platform, which was “produced under the tight control of the Bush campaign” and “puts the party firmly on the record against legalized abortion, gay marriage and other forms of legal recognition for same-sex couples, reflecting the political clout of social conservatives.”
The Washington Postoff-leads a poll of registered voters showing the presidential race deadlocked, with Kerry having lost the edge he briefly had on national security.
The NYT does the requisite preview of the corporate-sponsored booze-fests (otherwise known as “welcoming receptions”) for GOP delegates and hangers-on. There are soirées hosted by the hard-partiers at the Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association and—of course—the New York Times.
With convention coverage crowding out the top spots, nobody fronts Moqtada Sadr ordering his militia to suspend attacks across Iraq. His aides say the cleric is about to hop in the political ring, though big surprise, it’s not a done deal. The LAT suggests there is still some fighting around Basra. As part of the deal, Sadr has apparently demanded that GIs withdraw from the center of all cities. No word on the U.S. response to that yet. A spokesman for Sadr told the NYT that the militia won’t turn over its weapons, since most of them are supposedly just the fighters’ personal guns anyway. “Don’t most families in America keep a weapon?” he asked.
One GI was killed and two wounded in a roadside bomb attack near Mosul, which the Post mentions at the end of a stuffed piece and others give similar play, if that.
A front-page LAT piece counts 63 GIs killed in August versus 54 in July and 42 in June. “They are just hitting us hard and everywhere,” said one analyst. “The reason they are effective is because they just have more people shooting at us.” One Army colonel in Iraq said he estimates that people involved in the insurgency make up about .5 percent of the population—or 120,000 people.
The NYT catches up on a report in yesterday’s Journal that the State Department wants to shifts $3.3 billion away from reconstruction and into paying for security. Of the roughly $18 billion allocated for reconstruction, a few hundred million has been spent. For what it’s worth, U.S. officials point out in today’s Journal that the plan doesn’t propose taking money from any projects already underway.
Everybody notes President Bush’s comment: “I don’t think you can win” the war on terror. “I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.” Only the NYT thinks it’s a big enough deal to front; in fact the Times puts it above the fold: “BUSH CITES DOUBT AMERICANS CAN WIN WAR ON TERROR.” It’s an interesting choice: Since as the Times points out, while the comment contrasts with Bush’s previous rhetoric it doesn’t auger a change in policy.
For a smarter, and frankly fairer take, see the Post, which puts the comment inside … and in context: Rather than focus on the simple verbal flip-floppery, the paper emphasizes that this was the latest in a string of recent comments by Bush toning down his war rhetoric.
A piece stuffed inside the Post says the Bush administration is making a widely respected federal agency that gather’s data on worker safety, less independent. The papersays the move is being opposed by “virtually every occupational health and safety organization” in the U.S. “This may be the first issue in the last decade that all the worker safety and health stakeholder groups agree on,” said a Reagan-era labor official.
An op-ed in the Journal offers an idea for curbing the ethnic-cleansing in Darfur: Create a, no-fly zone. Hopefully it would be U.N.-imposed, but it doesn’t have to be: “The choice, in Darfur, is not between multilateralism and unilateralism. It is between empty words and effective action in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe.”
The Post piece on the president’s “gaffe,” essentially a campaign wrap-up, also notices Bush offering this humdinger yesterday: “What I’m telling you is we’re not going to nationalize health care under George W., and my opponent is, see. That’s the difference. My opponent will; we won’t.” The Post, which apparently doesn’t have access to the Internet, simply says, “The accusation was immediately denied by the Kerry campaign.”