Today's Papers

Democrats at Bat

The New York Timesand the Washington Postlead with an assessment of new Dems in power who are forsaking ideology in the name of populism and hoping to avoid the partisanship that defined the GOP takeover in 1995. That’s bad news for liberal groups looking for payback for the work they did during the election, and the Los Angeles Times leads with an examination of the pressure Democratic legislators are facing from activists who are hoping to gain big strides in Iraq policy, abortion rights, and gun control, among other issues.

The WP goes up high with the question on everyone’s minds following the election and Defense Department shakeup: “What Next in Iraq?” The Iraq Study Group, led by former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton and former secretary of state James Baker, is set to meet with the president tomorrow and begin charting a new path in Iraq—but not too new, according to WP sources. Some plans reportedly under consideration: a new political compromise between Sunnis and Shiites, a stronger plan to train Iraqi troops, or increased diplomacy with Iran and Syria. Many point out that these have been tried in various capacities, with little success.

The Post fronts a look at how the $38 billion reconstruction effort in Iraq has fallen short: The increasing violence combined with security concerns and poor planning are overwhelming the rebuilding successes, say those involved in the reconstruction. “We accomplished a significant amount of work. But it was just overwhelmed by the overlay of violence. … It’s hard to be very optimistic,” said Clifford G. Mumm, who has spent much of the last three years in Iraq managing projects for Bechtel Corp.

Speaking of monitoring the reconstruction of Iraq: The NYT reports on A1 that congressional Democrats plan to push legislation next week that would increase the oversight power of the federal agency in charge of investigating fraud and waste in Iraq. The action would invalidate a Republican-backed legislative clause that had set an expiration date for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which has persistently disputed the notion of success in the reconstruction effort.

According to wire reports, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Baghdad police recruiting center on Sunday morning, killing at least 33.

In Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military announced a $500,000 reward for anyone offering information on the missing soldier captured nearly three weeks ago. Also on Saturday, Sunni gunmen killed 10 Shiites and kidnapped dozens of others, while two car bombs exploded in a downtown shopping area, killing at least six.

The papers go inside with the United States’ veto of a Security Council resolution on Saturday that rebuked Israel for its military action in Gaza and called for a withdrawal of Israeli troops there. Qatar introduced the resolution, and 10 countries supported it. John Bolton contended that the measure “does not display an even-handed characterization of the recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

On the front page of the Post, Karl Rove blames his party’s election losses on various scandals swirling around Republicans. “We were on a roll, and it stopped it,” he said of the Mark Foley scandal. Over on the NYT’s op-ed page, outgoing Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee believes that “poisonous partisanship” cost the Republicans their majority.

On its front page, the LAT looks at the pro-democracy movement in Vietnam, which could get a boost from an upcoming visit by President Bush this week. His attendance at Hanoi’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit comes while Congress is mulling removing trade restrictions against Vietnam.

In an article that asks, “Is America Too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?,” the Post considers if Americans are ready for an African-American or a woman in the Oval Office. The paper has some curious ways of summing up the history of women and minorities in politics, such as: “the repression of women in this country was made of … bras, aprons and constitutional amendments.” (Does the Post forget back-alley abortions, sexual harassment, and economic disparity?) Another passage invokes earlier trailblazers, like “Ferraro, who bombed, and Pelosi, who is still hanging around” (presumably “hanging around” is a synonym for “soon to run the House of Representatives”). 

Donald, we hardly knew ye: In the Post’s Outlook section, Douglas Feith fights Rumsfeld backlash, explaining the complexities of the outgoing secretary of defense: “Rumsfeld is a bundle of paradoxes, like a fascinating character in a work of epic literature.”