| (posted Friday, Sept. 20)|
| The United States declared the Bosnian elections a "victory for the democratic process" and prepared to bring American troops home by the end of the year. The leader of the country's Muslim faction won the chairmanship of the new tripartite government, but the Serbian and Croatian candidates he had defeated conspired to redivide the country along ethnic lines and to prevent refugees from returning to their homes. European diplomats lamented the stubborn ethnic hatreds but resigned themselves to a Bosnia united only in name. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher hailed the election as a vindication of Clinton's policy. The catch is that there will be a follow-up peacekeeping force, and Christopher wouldn't say whether American soldiers will be in it.|
| A bipartisan commission excluded Ross Perot from the first presidential debate. Panelists explained that Perot had no chance of winning, and some observers added that there was no way to admit him while excluding other fringe candidates. Perot said he would sue, pointing out that the commission should have been nonpartisan instead of bipartisan. Both sides appealed to the polls: Perot pointed out that three of every four voters want him in the debates, but the commission noted that fewer than 10 percent say they will actually vote for him. Scholars blasted the commission's criteria as undemocratic (but critics pointed out that Perot himself avoided debating his underdog rival for the Reform Party nomination). Clinton scored points with Perot sympathizers by lobbying for his inclusion; Perot returned the favor by blaming his exclusion on Republican fat cats. A minor fuss broke out about the commission's practice of consulting journalists about Perot's viability. Journos who hadn't been asked questioned the ethics of those who had. But political analysts weren't so sure the decision was bad for Perot, since it gave him more publicity and lent credence to his complaints that the system is rigged. "Chasing him offstage just plays into his hands," warned USA Today.|
| The United Auto Workers struck a new deal with Ford Motor Co. Ford agreed not to reduce the total number of jobs and work hours available to UAW members by more than 5 percent over three years. In exchange, the UAW agreed to let Ford pay lower wages to workers at its new auto-part plants than it gives its assembly-line workers. Analysts couldn't decide whether Ford had foolishly guaranteed more jobs than it could justify or the UAW had foolishly forfeited its credibility by accepting the two-tier pay scale. Cynics suggested that the deal reeked of ulterior motives, with the UAW selling out new workers and Ford using the deal to squeeze General Motors (which isn't as far along in its downsizing). Analysts also remarked on the UAW's new slickness: The union didn't threaten loudly to strike, as it has done in previous years; instead, it shrouded the talks so as to prevent Ford and GM from colluding, and coordinated behind the scenes with its sister union in Canada.|
| A Defense Department report criticized top U.S. military brass for failing to prevent the terrorist bombing that killed 19 American servicemen in Saudi Arabia. The report said that the base commander had failed to install plastic coating on the windows (flying glass killed several soldiers) and had been so worried about terrorists getting through the fence that he had failed to consider that they might explode their bomb outside the fence (which they did). The report also debunked the Pentagon's efforts to blame the security lapse on the Saudis. Defense Secretary William Perry theatrically took full responsibility at a congressional hearing; lawmakers, evidently mollified, responded with praise. Analysts concluded that Perry, unlike previous Defense Secretary Les Aspin, would keep his job.|
| Jury selection began in O.J. Simpson's civil trial. Experts noted that everything is different from the criminal trial: The jury pool is overwhelmingly white; prosecutors only have to demonstrate guilt by a preponderance of evidence (instead of beyond a reasonable doubt); nine votes on the 12-member jury are enough; Simpson can't take the Fifth Amendment; and the judge has made it hard for the defense to introduce its best arguments (painting Mark Fuhrman and the Los Angeles Police Department as racist, and claiming they planted evidence). The early line is that Simpson will probably lose. The judge banished cameras from the court and tried to bar witnesses from discussing the case publicly. But media coverage will be heavy. TV producers, newspaper editors, and booksellers voiced amazement and disgust at the public's bottomless thirst for the subject.|
| Bob Dole attacked Bill Clinton's record on crime. Dole accused Clinton of stacking courts with liberal judges, and pledged to double federal spending on state prisons. He asserted that "the cause of crime can be explained with one simple word: Criminals." Political analysts concluded that Dole was shifting to social issues because his economic plan had bombed. Clinton upstaged Dole the same day by accepting the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, which had never previously endorsed a Democrat for president. Pundits snickered that Dole had been outfoxed yet again, though the FOP's president spoiled the effect somewhat by saying that the endorsement was as much for Clinton's labor policies as for his crime policies. The next day, Clinton touted new Justice Department numbers showing a two-year decline in violent crime. Experts noted that, as with drugs, Clinton's crime policies hardly differ from Dole's and have nothing to do with the crime rate.|
| Dole fell off the stage at a rally in Chico, Calif.--an episode barely mentioned in the print media but played over and over on television. In another much-noted slip, he referred (in California) to a no-hitter thrown the previous night by the "Brooklyn Dodgers." Meanwhile, a Dole ad reminded voters of an earlier Clinton slip: In his famous "boxer shorts" MTV interview, the president answered "yes, if I could" to a college student's question about whether he would inhale marijuana now.|
| The fall TV season began. Cosby, in which Bill Cosby plays a retired airline clerk, earned critical praise and the highest ratings of any new sitcom since, well, the last Cosby show. Other critical picks: Spin City, featuring Michael J. Fox as a deputy mayor/political consultant (its success "could very well depend on what the American public thinks about Dick Morris," wrote John J. O'Connor in the New York Times), and Pearl, with Cheers' Rhea Perlman playing a slightly less-loud version of her old character, only this time in college. Brat-pack actress Molly Ringwald made her TV debut in a sitcom called Townies, which Newsweek said "exploits every imaginable cliché of working class life." Brooke Shields also has her own new show, called Suddenly Susan; the entire plot (except for Shields herself) was jettisoned at the last moment. Meanwhile, there were unconfirmed reports that the lead character on the hit sitcom Ellen, played by Ellen DeGeneres, would come out as a lesbian. Pat Robertson called it "hard to believe," noting that "she's such an attractive actress."|
| President Clinton declared 1.7 million acres of Utah a national monument, thwarting a Dutch company's plans to mine the area for coal. The press portrayed it as a bold political stroke that would endear Clinton to environmentalists. Skeptics questioned Clinton's environmental sincerity, noting that he had allowed poultry and timber companies to ruin Arkansas' rivers and forests. Clinton actually staged the signing ceremony at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Political analysts attributed this to (a) the Canyon's photo-op appeal; (b) Clinton's cheeky effort to win Arizona, which hasn't voted Democratic in half a century; and (c) widespread outrage over his decision in Utah, where the schools depend on mining-industry revenue. Utah Republicans branded Clinton a tyrant for relying on a 90-year-old federal law that lets the president designate national monuments without consulting Congress.|
| Immigration politics splintered the GOP. Congressional Republicans maneuvered to boost their election prospects by passing a bill that would double the border patrol and expand workplace inspections. But Dole's campaign manager, intent on denying Clinton credit for the bill, urged GOP congressional leaders to poison it with a veto-bait amendment that would require schools to expel children of illegal immigrants. The intraparty quarrel, punctuated by Sen. Alan Simpson's outburst at Dole's "Machiavellian mumbo jumbo," delighted Democrats and the press. Liberal columnists and editorialists stripped Dole of the Badge of Honorable Old Moderation and awarded it to Simpson instead.|
| Spiro Agnew, McGeorge Bundy, and Tupac Shakur died, and the press seemed more disappointed with their lives than with their deaths. Agnew's name was inseparable from the predicate "resigned in disgrace." Obituaries rehashed his ethnic slurs, anointed him the prototypical press-bashing, attack-dog vice president, and even pointed out that Nixon disliked him and considered dumping him from the ticket. The Los Angeles Times skewered his "avarice and mendacity, ... inexperience and clumsiness." Bundy was remembered as a prodigy who gave prodigies a bad name. The Washington Post politely conceded that he "survived" the Vietnam debacle; the New York Times smirked that journalists who covered Bundy "overworked adjectives like 'brilliant.' " Shakur's fatal wounding in a drive-by shooting was attributed to his persistent dabbling in gangs and violence. The Post cited the widespread suspicion that Shakur "had gotten what he deserved." Eulogies were intelligent but stupid. "He was intelligent but behaved stupidly," said the Post. "One side of him was intelligent. The other did stupid things," said Clarence Page.|
--Compiled by William Saletan and the editors of SLATE.
Photograph of Bosnian women by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters; photograph of microwave truck outside Santa Monica courthouse by Fred Prouser/Reuters; photograph of Robert Redford at the Grand Canyon signing ceremony by Mike Theiler/Reuters.