Today's Papers

Barack the Builder

The New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Timesall lead with President-elect Barack Obama’s announcement Saturday of a sweeping stimulus plan designed to create 2.5 million jobs by spending billions on infrastructure, education, and alternative energy. The plan is more expansive than anything Obama proposed during his campaign and eclipses the last stimulus proposal attempted by President Clinton in 1996. Front page and A-section stories also analyze Obama’s relationship with Hillary Clinton, who is all but guaranteed to become his secretary of state.

The LAT sees Obama’s two-year job proposal as “the latest indication that the president-elect has decided to use the transition period to influence events at a time of crisis, when the current administration appears powerless to stop a slide.” All three papers highlight the fact that Obama’s new plan is more aggressive and expensive than the one he proposed during the campaign, though the WP notes that Obama’s address was vague on specifics and price tags. (The Post also projects that the package will cost “well over” $200 billion, which would be “bold” compared to previous presidents’ similar plans.) The NYT and WP both consider the possibility that Republicans could block such an ambitious deficit-spending measure.

The papers all report that Obama is considering allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire in 2010, rather than roll them back immediately. To do so would be to renege on a campaign promise, the NYT notes, but it’s also a no-brainer considering how the economic crisis has brought bipartisan agreement that the government should be pulling out all the stops to spur economic growth. Obama has scheduled a Monday press conference to introduce his economic advisers. The team will be led by Timothy Geithner, currently the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who Obama has selected for treasury secretary.

The NYT fronts a story about the “strategic courtship” between Obama and Hillary Clinton, who reportedly agreed to be Obama’s secretary of state late Friday. Their relationship first thawed, the soft-lede anecdote suggests, when Clinton gave a passionate speech asking voters to support Obama—a move that caused Obama’s senior aides to give her a standing ovation. Democrats close to the senators say the two got past their bitter campaign fight long before their party did, and Clinton’s tireless work on the campaign trail has proved her loyalty. The story’s final paragraph reports Clinton has also spoken to Michelle Obama several times recently about raising a family in the White House.

The WP reports nervousness in the Arab world that Clinton, the “most reliably pro-Israel” contender for secretary of state, will continue what they see as a lack of balance in the United States’ refereeing of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Clinton has made hawkish statements against Iran and has always spoken favorably of Israel, though supported the creation of a Palestinian state in 1998. Democratic senator Evan Bayh says Clinton is, above all, a “pragmatist” who will be most interested in a workable solution to Middle East conflicts.

The LAT fronts the post-election ire “liberal Hollywood” is feeling for supporters of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California. Activists “continue to comb donor lists and employ the Internet to expose those who donated money to support the ban.” Prominent artists and companies have been “outed” by activists, including California Musical Theater director Scott Eckern, the Mormon director of the company that puts on the L.A. Film Festival, and the Cinemark theater company. A lone gay rights supporter in the story expresses reluctance at the notion of firing someone for their beliefs.

A profile of Michael Eisner in the NYT finds the ex-Disney chief “much happier” outside of the company he led until the “bitter, public fight” that ended his tenure. Eisner now hosts a talk show on CNBC and dabbles successfully in new media ventures that include a video site and a video production company.

An NYT review describes Guns N’ Roses’ first album in 17 years as “outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced and, all too clearly, the end of an era.” Chinese Democracy, which features front man Axl Rose as the only original member, belatedly comments on eras that passed while his band was off the stage, from Metallica to Nine Inch Nails to U2. Full of Rose’s famous indulgence, the record is a “letdown” that “leaves his worst impulses unchecked.”

A pair of reviews in the WP “Book World” section ponders the stunning achievement that is the modernization of the Hebrew language. Hebrew has developed a “new vibrancy” in less than a century, but is now, one author argues, “messy, boisterous, even chaotic.”

The WP “Style” section previews tomorrow night’s two-hour “prequel” of the 24 season that begins in January, in which iron-fisted counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer has moved on to humanitarian missions. The show still looks to be packed with sometimes-gruesome action, but has clearly entered a new, post-Bush administration paradigm: “Torture has been discredited and abandoned as official policy. 24 seems to have gotten that memo.”