Conventional Wisdom

Conventional Wisdom

Conventional Wisdom

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
July 31 2000 5:15 AM

Conventional Wisdom

The Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times all lead and off-lead with coverage of today's opening of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. None of the papers' non-convention fronts are fronted by any of the other papers. The WP leads with vice-presidential nominee Dick Cheney's final (and nationally televised) press maneuverings before the kickoff of the convention. The two Times offer their own poll findings: the LAT reports George W. Bush leading Al Gore 44 percent to 39 percent, while the NYT poll suggests that the majority of Republican delegates at this week's convention are considerably more conservative than the moderate party image crafted by the Bush campaign. The Wall Street Journal poll tops its "World-Wide" box, and lists Bush as ahead by five points--but notes that, although his lead is down slightly from last month, his prospects are good: The same voters who are increasingly receptive to tax cuts in the face of higher federal budget surpluses are also enthusiastic about the Cheney pick.

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The LAT poll finds that independent voters have yet to lend support to Bush and scores Gore and Bush in a "virtual dead heat" regarding their ability to keep the economy thriving. The NYT/CNN delegate poll, tracking issues from gun control and school vouchers to abortion, the environment, and prescription drug subsidies for the elderly, characterizes the delegates as "significantly to the right of much of the nation and even to the right of rank-and-file Republican voters." Though some delegates conceded that Bush was not as conservative as they were, the poll shows that both moderate and conservative Republicans are comfortable with Bush and confident about his chances. About half of the 2,066 Republican delegates responded to the questionnaire.

The WP lead and the LAT off-lead explain that Cheney's televised pre-partying yesterday on five talk shows consisted mainly of defending his voting record in the House, especially his vote against freeing Nelson Mandela, against cop-killer bullets and plastic guns invisible to metal detectors, and against Head Start and the Older Americans Act. The questioning became especially heated on This Week, when Cheney, after being asked about the Mandela vote, queried Sam Donaldson: "What trivial question do you want to ask me?" Cheney's strategy throughout the interviews, the WP notes, was to dismiss the votes as insignificant but to insist he might vote differently today. The Democrats, meanwhile, are launching a TV campaign today to publicize the votes in question. According to the WP, the ads will run for the next seven to 10 days and cost around $3.5 million.

The NYT, the WP, and the LAT off-lead with convention tandem pieces: The NYT story spotlights the unlikely and once-unwanted political career of George W. Bush's wife Laura, who will deliver the convention's inaugural address tonight. The WP fronts the weekend's protests at the convention, where 5,000 people participated in peaceful, highly organized demonstrations to draw attention to issues ranging from campaign finance to rights for the transgendered. Several of the protests, which organizers described as kindred to the WTO protests in Seattle, focused on the alliances forged by corporations and political leaders, drawing special attention to the heavy corporate support of the convention itself. Similar protests are planned at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. All the papers' coverage of convention eve included an account of Sen. John McCain's discomfiting attempt to bring his delegates to Bush's camp: While reiterating his own endorsement of Bush, McCain was met with catcalls and loud groans at the Reform Party-oriented Shadow Convention.

The NYT fronts the re-election of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, whose landslide victory over opponent Francisco Arias Cárdenas may, due to a recent charter that repealed the ban on sitting presidents seeking immediate re-election, insure that he keeps his office until 2013. Venezuelans keen for what Chávez promised as the beginning of a "new republic" gave the president a 20-point victory over Cárdenas, according to early reports from the polls. Cárdenas, who was Chávez's right-hand man during his failed 1992 coup attempt, parted ways with him over his alliance with Fidel Castro.

The WP reports on new evidence that last week's fiery crash of an AirFrance Concorde may not have been due to simple engine malfunction, as initially believed, but to a fuel leak caused by fragments of a magnesium wheel that may have exploded on takeoff, rupturing the fuel tanks and adjacent engines. The evidence recalls similar but less catastrophic incidents with the Concorde in which the tires burst and the metal wheels underneath disintegrated under the strain of takeoff. AirFrance's entire fleet of five Concordes remains grounded, pending the conclusion of the inquiry.

Unconventional choices: In an NYT op-ed piece, Bob Dole and Gerald Ford attempt to spin the complaints circulating in the media that Cheney is a "safe" choice for Bush. Rather, Dole and Ford assert, Cheney represents an "unconventional choice" precisely because he was chosen for his ability to help the ticket govern well, not simply to win. Coincidentally, Bush's pick will be showcased the very same night as Monday Night Football's new wildcard, comedian Dennis Miller, who will call the Hall of Fame Game with Al Michaels and Dan Fouts. To avoid conflict with network coverage of the Republican convention's opening night, ABC has graciously moved the kickoff of the other Grand Old Party up an hour to 7 p.m.

The front page of USA Today was unavailable at press time.