The Washington Postleads with the growing divide between Republican lawmakers, as some continue to clamor for a change in Iraq, while others are standing behind the White House. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with President Bush promising to veto any legislation that sets a date for withdrawal. Bush implored lawmakers to wait until the September progress report before passing any Iraq-related legislation. But there's an earlier report coming down the pipeline this week, and the Los Angeles Timesleads with its own assessment of the overall Iraq strategy. Although the administration can point to some successes, it's unclear whether they're very meaningful or if they can even be sustained. Meanwhile, Iraq continues to be plagued by many of the same problems, and the chances that things could improve by September are slim at best.
The New York Timesleads with Dr. Richard Carmona, the surgeon general from 2002 until 2006, telling Congress that the Bush administration frequently tried to shape his public statements so that they would fit its political goals and prevented him from speaking out about several issues. Carmona has thus become the latest in a string (the WP has a good rundown) of officials who have said that political considerations take precedence over scientific facts at the Bush White House. USA Todayleads with a look at how more states are providing discounts in college tuition for veterans, partly as a way to make up for severe deficiencies in the federal GI Bill. Some of it has to do with the increased number of National Guard troops that are being sent into battle, but it's also because often the money provided by the federal government is simply not enough. But as more state lawmakers are dealing with budgetary woes, some are considering cutting back.
GOP leaders are counting on the fact that Democrats need 60 votes in order to get any legislation passed in the Senate, and the administration went into an all-hands-on-deck mode to try to prevent any more defectors. There are several amendments being discussed in the Senate, but the ones that have the greater chance of getting Republican support do not include a precise withdrawal date and give Bush greater flexibility. Meanwhile, lawmakers aren't the only ones defecting, as the LAT fronts a look at how the three Republican front-runners have been "quietly backing away" from supporting a continuation of the "surge."
As more troops have moved into Baghdad neighborhoods, they continue to face a barrage of attacks and "have been unable to establish security, even for themselves," says the LAT. Iraqis who live in mixed neighborhoods continue to leave their homes on a massive scale. So, while the administration is likely to point to a decrease in sectarian violence in Baghdad, some suspect it is merely a sign that most neighborhoods have become segregated. And although Iraqis are moderately optimistic that U.S. troops could have some success against al-Qaida in Iraq, it's less clear whether they can be effective in creating political unity and economic opportunities, two factors that everyone says are crucial to bring about security.
The LAT points out inside that Bush once again talked about the fight in Iraq as a battle against "the same people that attacked us on September the 11th." As any faithful TP reader should know by now, there's little evidence of a connection between al-Qaida in Iraq and Osama Bin Laden's terrorist network. In other Iraq news, everyone mentions what the NYT calls the "most intense mortar attack to date on the Green Zone" that killed three people, including an American service member, and wounded 18.
Carmona said he was prevented from speaking out on several issues, including stem cells, sexual education, and prisoners' health care. On the issue of sexual education, Carmona said he wanted to discuss contraceptives, but he was blocked due to the focus on abstinence-only policies. Carmona was one of three former surgeon generals who testified yesterday, and although the three discussed some sort of political interference with their jobs, they all said it seems to have gotten worse under Bush.
The NYT and WP front the big changes in Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign team as two of his top aides resigned. Despite McCain's insistence that he's still in the race, everyone says this brings further doubt to whether the man who was once considered a shoo-in for his party's nomination will be able to continue his campaign for much longer. The resignations came after several contentious meetings where McCain expressed bewilderment over the news that his campaign was in such poor financial shape. The NYT says McCain only realized the extent of the problem late last month.
USAT fronts a blunt look at the massive problems that Bush will leave for whoever ends up taking his place. "I can't think of a single modern president about to bequeath to his successor such a difficult agenda and such a damaged presidency," says Paul Light of New York University.
The WP goes inside with two Justice Department officials saying that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales didn't lie to Congress when he affirmed there hadn't been "one verified case of civil liberties abuse." Even though he knew of the reports that detailed how FBI officials had frequently overstepped their bounds, it turns out they weren't abuses because they weren't intentional.
The LAT fronts news that the Chinese government executed the former head of its food and drug safety agency for taking bribes to approve medicines. Messages supporting the execution were quick to appear online in a show of what the LAT says is the average citizen's frustration with the lack of safety in national products.
USAT reports that Springfield, Vt. (population: 9,300), was the winner of the competition to hostthe premiere of the Simpsons Movie that pitted 13 Springfields from across the country against each other. They each created a video to make the case for their town, and people voted online for their favorite.