Today's Papers

Kill Bill

The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide news box lead with the dramatic collapse of the touted immigration reform legislation that had been under debate in the Senate. The bipartisan bill, weakened by several contentious amendments, had been in trouble for days. USA Today goes below the fold with immigration and leads a federal proposal that would temporarily allow U.S. citizens flying to and from Canada and Mexico to leave their passports at home. The waiver, to be announced today, comes in response to a backlog in passport processing.

Unable to agree on the number of proposed amendments to debate, Senate leaders threw up their hands and tabled the bill after two futile attempts to vote for cloture. This renders the bill effectively dead, although Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., held open the possibility of returning to it later this year. Don’t hold your breath: The LAT astutely notes that the Democrats won’t want to give Bush a legislative accomplishment he can point to in the 2008 election cycle.

Naturally, each party blamed the other for the legislation’s collapse, but several senators expressed a genuine frustration that transcended mere partisan defensiveness. “Are we men and women or mice?” asked an aggravated Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.—rhetorically, one hopes. It’s an unequivocally harsh blow to the administration, which alienated much of its base in its attempts to sell the bill. The Post calls its failure “a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington.” The NYT is the only paper to put the bill’s implosion into a human context, going inside with a story about a recent immigration  raid in New Haven, Conn. “There is truly no safe haven for fugitive aliens,” said one federal official.

At the G8 summit in Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to join the United States and several European nations in a jointly administered missile defense system that would shield Europe from attack, the Post and others report. The offer was wholly unexpected, especially considering Putin’s longstanding opposition to any sort of European missile shield. But is it just a dodge on Putin’s part? The NYT notes several “possibly insurmountable” barriers to its implementation.

In other G8 news, although summit leaders failed to take decisive action on the subject of greenhouse gases, they agreed to “consider” halving harmful emissions worldwide by 2050.

In his confirmation hearing yesterday, the proposed Iraq war czar indicated that National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley will no longer be involved in policy decisions regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. The LAT rightly pegs this as a bold and possibly unprecedented administrative move. “Talk about rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” said one observer. The Post barely mentions the Hadley angle, focusing its coverage instead on Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute’s admission that the situation in Iraq has not significantly improved as a result of the recent troop surge.

Everybody notes that the House of Representatives voted to expand stem-cell research, even though it lacks the votes necessary to defeat President Bush’s promised veto. Bush derided the proposal as a rehash of previous bills that had already failed and reaffirmed his insistence that stem-cell research proceed in “ethical ways.”

State and federal officals endorsed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to impose fees on vehicular traffic in crowded areas of Manhattan, the NYT reports. Congestion pricing has succeeded in London, but it’s unclear if the measure can work in the car-crazy United States. With an estimated $380 million in new revenue at stake, TP suspects it can.

USAT’s “cover story” reports on the staggering drought that is afflicting much of the country. (The Southeast is having its driest spring since at least 1895.) Is global warming to blame? Judge for yourself. Meanwhile, a separate front page piece indicates that 39 percent of Americans believe that creationism is “definitely true,” as opposed to 18 percent of Americans who feel the same way about evolution.

The LAT reports that a Saudi prince with close ties to the Bush administration has been implicated in a British banking scandal. Some worry that a diligent pursuit of the investigation might upset the delicate balance that has made the Saudis uneasy allies in the West’s war on terror. “It’s hard to get the cooperation of individuals who you are simultaneously investigating and accusing of crimes,” noted one expert.

In similar news, the NYT and the LAT report that Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is being investigated regarding his connections to a corrupt former oil executive. Some think that the oilman may have paid for renovations to Stevens’ Anchorage home. The Post had this story yesterday.

As if John McCain didn’t have enough problems, the Post fronts news that Fred Thompson’s impending presidential candidacy is drawing donors away from McCain’s campaign. Nobody’s legitimately panicking yet, though: A post-jump statistic reveals that more than two-thirds of the Pioneers and Rangers from the 2004 Bush campaign remain financially uncommitted to any Republican candidate.

The NYT contends that the military’s controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has already become a divisive issue in the presidential race, citing the unsurprising statistic that Republican candidates defend the policy and Democratic candidates support its repeal. The piece also helpfully notes that social issues are still important to Americans.

Everybody reports that at least 24 people died and 42 were wounded in bombings Thursday in Iraq.

The NYT, the Post, and the LAT report on a long-lost letter written by Abraham Lincoln that was recently discovered in the National Archives. In the 1863 letter, written to Gen. Henry Halleck, Lincoln extrapolated some short-term success to optimistically predict the Civil War’s imminent end. Good to know that some things never change.

Finally, America’s favorite slattern might be headed back to prison after all. Whatever else you might say about the state of the world, at least we’re living in the Golden Age of Schadenfreude.