Today's Papers

Those Poor Superdelegates

The New York Times leads with uncommitted superdelegates fearing a prolonged battle for the Democratic presidential nomination. The Times says the Democratic heavies are “uncertain about who, if anyone, would step in to fill a leadership vacuum and help guide the contest to a conclusion that would not weaken the Democratic ticket in the general election.” The Los Angeles Times leads with the “surprising diversity” of positions John McCain has taken on foreign-policy issues during his time in Congress. “Taken as a whole, they seem quirky and a la carte, rather than developed from a single philosophy,” says the LAT. The Washington Post leads with the upcoming Supreme Court review of the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns.

Most of the superdelegates interviewed by the Times want the nomination battle decided before the Democratic convention, but they don’t know how to resolve the conflict. Lucky for them, TP has a solution: Pick a candidate. As the Times says, “[I]t is a virtual certainty that neither candidate will win enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination,” so the decision will come down to the votes of the superdelegates. But many of them are “hoping they will be relieved of making an excruciating decision that could lose them friends and supporters at home.” A true profile in courage.

The NYT adds that while many superdelegates intend to keep their options open, they also said that “in deciding whom to support, they would adopt what Mr. Obama’s campaign has advocated as the essential principle: reflecting the will of the voters.” If this is the case, and with Obama holding nearly insurmountable (and growing) leads in the popular vote and delegate count, what are they waiting for?

One last note on the NYT’s lead: As far as TP can tell, none of the superdelegates interviewed for the story suggested ending the system that gives them a vote.

The Republicans have their nominee, and the LAT says he’s sending mixed signals on foreign policy, allowing him to court both realists and neoconservatives. But the argument for John McCain the realist is based on congressional votes that are at least a decade old, while his current catalog of positions screams “neocon.” Nevertheless, McCain’s realist supporters believe some of his more hawkish views are just for show. If McCain is elected president, “there’s going to be a lot of disappointment on the neoconservative side,” said Adm. Bobby Ray Inman, a former top intelligence official and McCain supporter.

Whoever the next president is, he or she will receive plenty of late-night phone calls, as suggested in a campaign ad for Hillary Clinton. But the next commander in chief is unlikely to lose much sleep as a result. Former White House advisers tell the WP that presidents are rarely asked to make major decisions in the middle of the night.

In other election news, the NYT notes that nearly one out of three vice presidents have gone on to become president, yet, according to Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, “just 1 percent of voters say the vice presidential candidate influences their decision in a presidential race.” In a separate piece, the NYT suggests, citing no evidence, that Hillary Clinton floated Barack Obama as a possible running mate because Mark Penn found that the idea polled well.

When the Supreme Court takes up the case against Washington’s gun ban this week, it will have the opportunity to decide once and for all whether the Second Amendment “provides an individual right to gun ownership or simply pertains to militia service.” But while the WP notes that “an endorsement of an individual right would be a monumental change in federal jurisprudence,” it doesn’t explain how it is likely to affect existing federal gun-control legislation.

From a local point of view, the Post says that the stakes of the case “are obviously high for the District.” But are they? There is no conclusive evidence that the handgun ban has reduced crime in a meaningful way.

Each of the papers notes the upcoming five-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. The NYT fronts a familiar-sounding story on how the insurgency “runs on stolen oil profits.” The WP, meanwhile, publishes an “Outlook” piece that connects America’s decision to invade to its thirst for oil, with references to conspiracy theories thrown in for good measure.

Elsewhere, the NYT reports that thousands of Tibetans, including Buddhist monks, clashed with riot police in the Chinese city of Xiahe on Saturday. But the Tibetan capital of Lhasa was generally quiet a day after violence erupted in the city.

Back in America, the NYT says Ben Bernanke is “inventing policy on the fly” in response to the meltdown in the credit markets. On Tuesday the Fed is expected to lower interest rates for the sixth time since September. Most forecasters think a recession (sorry) is inevitable, if not already under way. But, hey, look on the bright side.

What rhymes with fellatio? … The NYT reviews David Lehman’s anthology The Best American Erotic Poems. The reviewer laments the fact that many of the poems in the book similarly “make raunchy metaphors out of unlikely foods, weird animals and western topography.” To be original, he counsels all those young aspiring erotic poets out there, “write something really filthy,” like W.H. Auden’s “The Platonic Blow.”