The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Timeslead, while the Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox, with news that, as most predicted in yesterday’s papers, the Democratic Party gained control of the U.S. Senate. Republican incumbent Sen. George Allen from Virginia conceded to Jim Webb after a post-election vote canvass determined the Democratic candidate led by approximately 9,000 votes. Republican Sen. Conrad Burns from Montana also conceded defeat yesterday.
USA Todaygoes across the top with the Democratic victory in the Senate, but in the traditional lead spot goes with news that President Bush has granted a waiver to allow the United States to continue training the militaries from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The waiver allegedly came about as U.S. officials increasingly worried the recent leftist victories in Latin America meant they were losing influence in the region. Since 2002, countries that refuse to grant U.S. personnel immunity from prosecution are banned from receiving any sort of military aid and training. On Oct. 2, a presidential memorandum was sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that lifted the ban in 21 countries.
The difference in the vote count in Virginia amounted to less than one-half of 1 percent of all the votes cast, which could have given Allen the right to ask for a recount. But sources tell the papers GOP operatives advised Allen against it, saying it would be a futile effort. “I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation that would not, in my opinion, alter the results,” Allen said.
Democrats on Capitol Hill held a victory rally and all eyes turned to Minority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada, who is expected to become the majority leader. “The election’s over. It’s time for a change,” Reid declared, while vowing to work with Republicans to get results.
In a Page-One piece, the Post chronicles George Allen’s spectacular fall from power. He began his campaign with a wide lead and was even talked about as a presidential candidate for 2008. Some say he lost touch with how Virginia was becoming more moderate, and others blame Allen’s insistence on using a new campaign team that had little experience in the state.
While the Democrats celebrated, some Republicans continued to criticize Bush for his decision to oust Rumsfeld the day after the election and not before, when it might have made a difference in the votes, the NYT reports.
The NYT continues to have the best inside details on how the decision to replace Rumsfeld came about. Today, some anonymous sources tell the paper Bush was working on removing Rumsfeld since late summer. The delay in the decision came because of a sense of loyalty, Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to the embattled secretary, and a lack of a clear successor. Also, the former generals who emphatically called for Rumsfeld’s dismissal appear to have caused the opposite effect they desired, because it led Bush to more emphatically support his defense secretary.
The NYT, LAT, and WP all publish front-page stories on Robert M. Gates to try to discern how he would act in the role of defense secretary, although everyone points out he will probably sail through confirmation hearings. The NYT says Gates has criticized the way in which the Bush administration has handled the Iraq war and is likely to seek advice from moderate Republicans. The Post focuses on how nominating Gates is another example of how President Bush is turning to people who were players in his father’s White House. The best piece, though, comes from the LAT, which says Gates has made several “forceful” statements throughout his career, making it unclear how he would run the military. Regardless, everyone seems to agree he is good at building a consensus and would be more likely to take advice from generals.
Over in the WP’s op-ed pages, James Mann says interpreting Gates’s nomination as a “victory of Bush 41 over Bush 43” is “far too simplistic.”
Proving all the talk of bipartisanship will only go so far, everyone mentions Bush laid out an agenda of what he wants to get passed through Congress before Republicans lose control next year. Included is a desire to get approval of the domestic wiretapping program and a confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Both the WP and LAT say it is unlikely Bolton would be confirmed because the White House failed to get support from a key moderate Republican, Sen. Lincoln Chafee from Rhode Island.
Everyone mentions Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee will step down in January, when his current term ends.
The NYT goes inside with a look at how Rep. Nancy Pelosi will face her first test when she decides who will become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Jane Harman, who is also from California, is currently the ranking Democrat, but she does not have a good relationship with Pelosi, whom has made it clear she wants someone else for the post. Harman says she won’t leave without a fight.
The LAT fronts a dispatch from the funeral held in the Gaza Strip for the 18 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli artillery, and focuses on how 16 of those killed were members of a single family.
An intelligence official tells the NYT the strike by an American Predator drone in Pakistan in January missed al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, by a mere two hours. The attack killed a total of 18 people.
The NYT goes inside with a fascinating look at how many of those fighting in Iraq are completely disconnected from the political events in Washington that could have an impact on their future. This week, a group of Marines found out about the Democratic sweep of Congress and Rumsfeld’s resignation from an Iraqi man whose house they were occupying. When the sergeant found out the news about Rumsfeld, he proceeded to tell his Marines and one shot back, “Who’s Rumsfeld?”
Everyone fronts or reefers news that Ed Bradley, one of the most famous correspondents on 60 Minutes, and one of the first prominent black journalists on network television, died yesterday of leukemia. Bradley, who was known for his powerful interviews and his sense of style, won 19 News Emmys, and last year was bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
Hip Reid … The NYT reports that when Harry Reid was waiting in his office for news about the elections on Tuesday, he heard Britney Spears was filing for divorce and quickly revealed he’s no stranger to pop culture. “Britney Spears,” Reid said as he shook his head, “She loses a little weight, and now she’s getting all cocky about things. … Britney has gotten her mojo back.”