Today's Papers

Cheney in Wonderland

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today lead, and the Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox, with the Senate foreign relations committee approving a nonbinding resolution that declares the administration’s plan to send more troops to Iraq is “not in the national interest.” The resolution was approved 12-9, with only one Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel voting with the Democrats. Although the vote numbers might make it seem like the committee was divided, in fact, most senators agreed the plan was not a good idea but many Republicans disagreed with the strategy or wording of the resolution. The New York Timesleads with a look at how some big states are likely to move up their presidential primaries to make them more relevant. This shift could lead to fundamental changes in the way presidential campaigns operate.

Both the NYT and WP emphasize in the lead that the Senate foreign relations committee vote came a day after President Bush asked Congress to give his plan a chance. The full Senate could vote on the resolution next week. But now there’s another contender in the resolution race, this one put forward by Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia with several Republican co-sponsors. Although the resolutions are largely similar, the LAT does the best job of pointing out the differences. Warner’s resolution doesn’t automatically discount all troop increases in Iraq, stating that the 4,000 planned for Anbar province may be necessary. It also does a thorough job of recognizing the president’s power as commander in chief, which could go a long way in gathering support from Republican senators.

California, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey are currently considering moving their primaries earlier in the calendar year. Since these are some of the most expensive (and expansive) media markets, it would force candidates to gather enough money and support to compete. The conventional wisdom is that this move would make the first, smaller, states a little less relevant and benefit those candidates with big clout and deep pockets, although some disagree. Experts are still analyzing, but as a Democratic consultant tells the paper, “The nominating process in 2008 is not a little different. It’s fundamentally different.”

Whatever the senators end up voting on, it won’t much matter to the administration, Vice President Cheney told CNN yesterday. Most of the papers include Cheney saying Congress “won’t stop us” but the Post goes a step further and fronts a separate story that looks at the whole interview. Apparently everyone is wrong about Iraq. According to Cheney, although “there’s problems” in Iraq there’s also “been a lot of success.” Cheney challenged CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer throughout the interview and accused him of wanting “to bail out.” The vice president said many in the media, along with several lawmakers, want to “write off” Iraq and “declare it a failure.” The paper notes the vice president’s attitude was very different from that expressed by Bush at the State of the Union address (video available here). Cheney wasn’t only angry about Iraq, he also got a little peeved when Blitzer asked him about his daughter’s pregnancy.

In other Iraq news, the LAT fronts a large picture of the latest offensive by U.S. and Iraqi forces into Baghdad’s Haifa Street, where they were attempting to push out militias. As the Post reminds readers high in the story, a fight took place in the neighborhood two weeks ago. Like before, some neighborhood residents accuse U.S. troops of helping Shiite militias by driving Sunnis from their homes.

The LAT goes inside with an interesting dispatch from one of the paper’s local journalists, who describes what he had to deal with as he carried out some errands throughout the day  in Baghdad before heading to work. Unlike most of these pieces, this isn’t one of those intense stories of how an everyday situation turns tragic. It’s interesting precisely because it talks about how doing everyday things has become complicated, even when there isn’t a bombing or kidnapping. It illustrated that even when it isn’t directly seen, violence is always present in Iraq.

The Post fronts word from sources who say the Bush administration is working on a series of new initiatives to help Afghanistan as it anticipates a new offensive by the Taliban this spring. The White House will ask Congress for about $7 billion to $8 billion to help pay for more security, as well as an increase in reconstruction work, which would mark a significant increase in the amount of money dedicated to helping Afghanistan. As opposed to Iraq, most Democratic lawmakers want the United States to increase its commitment to Afghanistan.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report on the federal budget yesterday, saying the budget deficit will fall this year and could disappear by 2012, and the papers illustrate how one story can be covered in two strikingly different ways. The Post takes a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward the announcement (published on A11), stating right in the lead that “virtually nobody—not even top CBO officials—believes it.” That’s because the CBO estimates make a lot of assumptions about such things as tax cuts and the cost of war, that everyone knows won’t hold up. The NYT, on the other hand, doesn’t ignore the problems with the estimate, but still decided to put the story on Page One.

The NYT fronts an interesting look at what can happen when science meets the news cycle  by examining the way research into the sexuality of sheep turned into some predicting it could lead to the “breeding out” (as the Sunday Timesput it) of homosexuality in humans. Despite assurances to the contrary, the researchers and their university began getting tons of protests. The paper waits until nearly the end of the story to point out how researchers often have to talk about potential human applications when writing their grants or in conversations with reporters to make their work more interesting, which might be worth a deeper look since that seems to be a large part of the problem.