The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal’s world-wide newsboxlead with the Iraqi government’s announcing it would favor a plan to withdraw U.S. combat troops that is similar to the timetable that Barack Obama has endorsed. After a few days of back-and-forth about what Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said or didn’t say to a German magazine, a spokesman said that “the Iraqi government believes the end of 2010 is the appropriate time for the withdrawal.” There’s little doubt that this was a big victory for Obama, particularly since it came on the same day as he met with Iraq’s leaders and was widely received as a visiting head of state rather than a candidate. USA Today leads with the improving security situation in Iraq and notes there’s been a sharp decline of insurgent attacks against convoys carrying U.S. supplies this year. Through June 2008, “there were only 93 attacks on about 6,100 logistics convoys,” which represents an attack rate of about 1.5 percent when it had once been as high as 20 percent.
The New York Timesleads with new data that show women have been getting out of the work force in large numbers, and the trend is likely to accelerate as the economy worsens. The last seven years mark the first time since 1960 that a period of economic recovery ended with a smaller percentage of women in the workplace than when it began. The Los Angeles Timesleads with a look at increasing concerns that oil supply may be close to reaching a peak, which means prices could soon get much higher. It’s an endless debate as there’s no consensus on whether the world’s oil supply is close to running out. But some say that, at the very least, the easy-to-reach oil could soon run out. If true, it would mean prices are likely to skyrocket as more money will have to be devoted to finding new sources of the precious black gold.
The WP says that the Iraqi government’s statement that American combat troops could be withdrawn by the end of 2010 “would be about seven months longer than Obama’s 16-month formulation.” But no one thinks a few months here or there are really significant, and the papers note that the Iraqi government’s spokesman seemed to come as close as politically possible to endorsing Obama’s plan without actually mentioning the candidate by name. And the spokesman also took pains to clarify that Maliki didn’t discuss withdrawal plans with Obama.
The LAT notes up high in its Page One piece that the “announcement bolstered Obama’s credibility on a key foreign policy issue,” which seemed like a gift from heaven for the presumptive nominee who had launched the Obama World Tour precisely to bolster his credibility among voters who think he’s too inexperienced to be commander in chief. “[A]s political theater, the events of the past few days have played unfailingly in the Democrat’s favor,” notes the Post’s Dan Balz in an analysis inside the paper.
In a front-page analysis, the NYT says that after his day in Iraq, “Obama seemed to have navigated one of the riskiest parts of a weeklong international trip without a noticeable hitch.” Before the tour, Slate’s John Dickerson warned that there could be a real risk that war zone pictures would show Obama looking awkward in protective gear. But those fears never materialized, and, in fact, the pictures seemed to have bolstered Obama, particularly when contrasted with those of his opponent.
The NYT and LAT both note that while Obama was photographed flying over Iraq with Gen. David Petraeus, television images showed John McCain riding a golf cart with former President George H.W. Bush. And the NYT points out that in a morning television interview, the presumptive Republican nominee talked about the situation in the “Iraq-Pakistan border,” in what the paper charitably calls “a momentary misstatement of geography.”
In the Post’s op-ed page, E.J. Dionne Jr. writes that in order to win the presidency, Obama doesn’t need “a great triumph during his trip this week” because he needs only to “battle John McCain to a tie on foreign policy and national security.” Recent developments have made Obama’s views seem “safe and reasonable,” which makes it more difficult for McCain to dismiss his opponent as naive and inexperienced. “Obama is playing it safe because he needs to make Americans feel that they would be safe under his leadership,” Dionne writes. “If he achieves this, he will vastly strengthen his odds of becoming commander in chief.”
The implications of the NYT’s lead story are staggering and a potential game-changer in how we think about women in the workplace. When economists first started to notice that women were dropping out of the work force, the commonly held view was that they were deciding to stay home in order to dedicate themselves to their children or households. But now many are saying that was just too simplistic and, in reality, women are, just like men, being affected by layoffs and downturns, and are discouraged by stagnant wages and pay cuts that lead many to stop working for a while. “But while men are rarely thought of as dropping out to run the household, that is often the assumption when women pull out,” says the NYT.
The NYT, LAT, and WP all front news that Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader who has been indicted on multiple charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, was captured in Serbia yesterday. Karadzic, who is accused of organizing the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica, had been on the run for more than 10 years. Few details were released about his arrest and where he was found, but the WP notes it’s not clear whether it was the result of “an investigative breakthrough or because political conditions were finally right in Serbia.”
The failure to capture Karadzic has long frustrated Western officials, and everyone notes the arrest is likely to accelerate Serbia’s entry into the European Union. Some 50 nationalists gathered last night to show their support for Karadzic, but everything was relatively calm. “Many Serbs regarded Karadzic as a remnant of their nation’s former status as a pariah unable to gain full integration into Europe, and they were glad to be rid of him,” notes the LAT.
The LAT and NYT go inside with news that a federal appeals court threw out a $550,000 fine that the Federal Communication Commission levied against CBS after the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that involved Super Bowl viewers seeing Janet Jackson’s exposed breast for “nine-sixteenths of one second.” The judges said the FCC “acted arbitrarily” and was trying to penalize CBS for a “fleeting image of nudity.” The judges also said CBS shouldn’t be held responsible for the work of “independent contractors,” noting that the network had asked for rehearsals to avoid just this type of unexpected problem.
For all those facing foreclosures, the LAT notes that the high-end market is still going strong. Candy Spelling, Aaron Spelling’s widow, has just bought the top two floors of a residential tower that is still under construction for $47 million. The 16,500 square feet of space might sound impressive, but it’s a clear downsizing for the heiress who currently lives in the largest house in Los Angeles County, which has 123 rooms. Having so much money to throw around doesn’t mean finding a place to live is easy. “The problem with the $40-million house is that there aren’t any,” a Beverly Hills real-estate agent said.
Well, that’s a relief. Although the fist bump is making inroads in the business world, it’s still mostly exchanged informally between male associates who are otherwise friends. “Fist bumping,” says USAT, “has a long way to go to unseat the handshake.”