Bush tries to bolster his base with troops.

Bush tries to bolster his base with troops.

Bush tries to bolster his base with troops.

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 16 2006 3:26 AM

DePloy

The papers all lead with President Bush's prime-time chat, where, as expected, he called for sending "up to 6,000" National Guard troops to the border while giving his strongest endorsement yet to a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for most of those already in the U.S. illegally.

The troops won't be patrolling and they won't be making arrests. They'll be doing back-office duty and giving engineering help to the Border Patrol. Bush said the soldiers will hang around for about a year until more Border Patrol agents come on line.

Advertisement

The Los Angeles Timeshas a particularly strong piece on the substance of the move—or the lack of it. There's a consensus that 6,000 troops is going to change ... not a heckuva lot. The LAT notices that the force will be staffed by guardsmen who will rotate in and  do two weeks at the border in lieu of their normal two-week training period. In other words, as the Times puts it, the units will be giving up their "only block of sustained training time."

As for the conservatives and, in particular, the House Republicans the pitch was aimed at: Nobody seems to headline it, but the papers are stuffed with less-than-full-fledged endorsements: "I have real concerns about moving forward with a guest worker program or a plan to address those currently in the United States illegally until we have adequately addressed our serious border security problems," said House Majority Whip Roy Blunt. "Americans, especially conservatives, are beginning to tune the president out," one conservative activist told the LAT.

A Republican strategist with "close ties to the White House" told the Washington Post that Bush should have tried to counter the nativist wing long ago. "The president responded to that House bill rather passively," said the "strategist," referring to the House's strict immigration bill. "Leadership is standing up to demagoguery."

Everybody fronts the U.S. re-establishing relations with Libya, which it cut off a quarter-century ago. The administration began lifting sanctions in 2004 in return for Libya dismantling its nascent nukes program and paying compensation to families of Pam Am Flight 103 victims. As the Post notes, the move was long-expected. The administration is pointing to it as a success story and potential model, except there's a small catch. "You need to have substantive talks for this type of tactic to work," former Secretary of State Colin Powell's one-time chief of staff told the Wall Street Journal. "But we have absolutely nothing going with Iran or North Korea."

Advertisement

Only the LAT fronts the big gang assault on Brazil's São Paulo, where "the weekend death toll exceeded that in Baghdad." About 80 people were killed, half of them police. There have also been 80 prison uprisings.

In Iraq, the military reported the deaths of two Marines, and two soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down during a long battle south of Baghdad in which Iraqis said at least a handful of civilians were killed. (Academic blogger Juan Cole has a more complete roundup of the violence.)

The papers mention that BellSouth contradicted USA Today's scoop and denied giving the government access to customers' phone records. USAT reports the company's denial then offers: "The night before the story was published, USA Today described the story in detail to BellSouth, and the company did not challenge the newspaper's account."

The New York Times announces on Page One, "RISING DIABETES THREAT MEETS A FALLING BUDGET." The piece quotes diabetes researcher after diabetes researcher explaining how ill-advised cuts in funding to their field are. "Diabetes is this massive tidal wave hitting the country," said one, "and we're cutting our best hope at protection." The government spends $1.1 billion studying diabetes. The size of the cuts: $1.9 million. That's in the 25th paragraph.

The Times argues that diabetes research has long been underfunded, and that seems like a reasonable thing to flag—unlike, say, the cuts.

Everybody notes the death of Stanley Kunitz, 100, who was twice the nation's poet laureate. "The deepest thing I know is that I am living and dying at once," he once said, "and my conviction is to report that self-dialogue." The final stanza from one of his last poems, "The Long Boat": 

Peace! Peace!

To be rocked by the Infinite!

As if it didn't matter

which way was home;

as if he didn't know

he loved the earth so much

he wanted to stay forever.