Today's Papers

Dubya Dubya II

Everybody leads with the finale. “That’s it,” said Sen. Kerry. A few hours later, President Bush said, “America has spoken, and I’m humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens.”  He called for … unity: “A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation.”

In the just-about-final tally, the president got about 59 million votes, the most in history. As everybody details, Bush went for his base, particularly evangelicals. And in the other oft-reported factoid, exit polls showed that a plurality of voters (22 percent) were most concerned with “moral values”—80 percent of them went for Bush.

As the Washington Postflags, about 120 million Americans voted, 60 percent of those eligible and the highest turnout in 36 years.

The New York Timeshas some Dems sniping that Kerry shouldn’t have conceded so quickly, apparently including a soon-to-be former senator, John Edwards. “He conveyed his point of view and Kerry made his own decision,” one Edwards “advisor” said. A tick-tock in the Wall Street Journal suggests that once Kerry saw the numbers in the morning it was a clear call.

Citing “administration officials,” the NYT welcomes the first members of the “likely to leave for personal reasons” club: Attorney General Ashcroft and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge.

While the GOP had four pick-ups in the Senate, it’s still five votes short of being able to stop Democratic filibusters. And some moderate Republicans warned the president not to get too pushy. As the NYT notes, Sen. Arlen Specter, who is expected to head the judiciary committee, suggested Bush not nominate any judges “who would change the right of a woman to choose.”

The Post takes a different Senate angle, emphasizing that retiring middle-of-the-road Democrats have been replaced by very conservative Republicans. “The locus of power has moved dramatically to the right in the Senate,” said one (centrist) analyst. Maureen Dowd agrees, “Several new members of Congress will make W. seem moderate.”

In the NYT, conservative activists offered their blessing. “Now comes the revolution,” said one. “If you don’t implement a conservative agenda now, when do you?”

Everybody does their bit to try to divine the coming second-term agenda. A NYT piece looks at Bush’s potential economic plans, namely his desires to partially privatize Social Security and to “reform” the tax code, which the Times takes to include lightening taxes on investment income. The president also promised to make his tax cuts permanent, which the NYT reminds would add an estimated trillion dollars to the federal debt over the next decade.

The Los Angeles Timessuggests Bush is going to have a tough time delivering. “Is it realistic to think that, after this nasty election, he’s going to get everyone in the room and say let’s hold hands and reform Social Security?” asked a Republican lobbyist. “I don’t see it.” The Times also guesses that, rhetoric aside, the president’s foreign policy won’t be too forward-leaning. “The Iraq experience has had a sobering effect,” said one former admin official.

The WSJ says that with Bush’s win, “big business is counting its blessings—and anticipating more.” Drug companies, investment firms, and health care companies all expect “specific gains from new federal policies and programs.”

While everybody speculates about Bush’s coming term, the Post has some tidbits on the current one: The administration has been “working for months to keep an upcoming eight-nation report from endorsing broad policies aimed at curbing global warming.” As the NYT first reported, the study found that the Arctic is now experiencing “some of the most rapid and severe climate change on Earth.”

Everybody notes that Yasser Arafat condition has taken a serious turn downward and he’s now in intensive care. It’s still unclear what’s wrong with him.

As the NYT puts it, Hungary has “joined the parade” of countries leaving Iraq; its troops will be gone by April. The country had already extended the deployment of troops through the coming elections. Hungary’s prime minister said another extension would be “impossible.”

One GI was killed yesterday, and a car bomb exploded outside Baghdad’s airport, killing a Brit and wounding nine Iraqis. Also, a Lebanese-American man was kidnapped after gunmen stormed his house in Baghdad.

In its off-lead, the LAT talks to some GIs who say they were at al-Qaqaa in April 2003 and saw loads of looters making off with explosives. The GIs were outnumbered, requested backup, and never got a response. “We were running from one side of the compound to the other side, trying to kick people out,” said one sergeant. “On our last day there, there were at least 100 vehicles waiting at the site for us to leave.” One “senior military intel official” explained, “It’s all about combat power. And we were short.”

The soldiers hadn’t been briefed about the explosives. When they saw looters hauling away bagged labeled “hexamine,” they Googled it. Said one GI, “We found out this was stuff you don’t smoke around.”