Can Obama and Clinton staffers work together in the fall?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
May 18 2008 7:21 AM

Kiss and Make Up

The Washington Post leads with word that some Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supporters are preparing to coalesce into a single campaign focused on November. The New York Times leads with the sharp rise in sectarian violence in Lebanon, fueled by a recent Hezbollah takeover of Beirut. The Los Angeles Times leads with a profile of the judge who led California's Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriages.

Even if voters are still hopelessly torn between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, campaign staffers are quietly preparing for the day when one of the candidates steps aside. Staffers and fundraisers in both camps are looking for ways to integrate and begin uniting the party behind a single candidate. There are obstacles to this, of course. Sources say strategists who backed Clinton may be sullen in defeat and those who backed Obama may be reluctant to share coveted spots on the winning team. And, yes, the WP just assumes that Obama will be the nominee, but that's hardly atypical anymore. Heck, the paper also reports that Obama has already started referring to the Clinton campaign in the past tense.

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The violence in Lebanon might have been set off by Hezbollah's actions last week, but the NYT explains that this round of sectarian conflict is also a product of political instability, which has plagued the country since Syrian forces pulled out in 2005. While Lebanon doesn't have a long history of conflict between Islamic sects, the recent spate of attacks and counterattacks may have started Lebanon on the path to the kind of prolonged violence raging elsewhere in the region.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George is a Republican who counts gay couples among his friends; so it's no surprise that he was conflicted about the landmark same-sex marriage verdict his court handed down last week. George tells the LAT that he considered it a civil rights issue on par with interracial marriage and was pleased that the dissenting opinion wasn't "homophobic."

Survivors of last week's earthquake in China's Sichuan province are now threatened by flooding, reports the NYT. The paper reports that thousands of survivors are fleeing temporary shelters after the government warned that rivers and lakes could flood due to landslide blockages. If flooding occurs, it would almost certainly put an end to any efforts to rescue people trapped in collapsed buildings. Inside, the WP says the earthquake has found media in China at its boldest in years. The LAT runs a story exploring the power of rumors in Chinese culture and the futile steps the government is pursuing to crack down on idle chatter.

The WP devotes most of its front-page real estate to a package of stories on childhood obesity, the first in a five-part series. Today's entry focuses on the long-term health effects of being obese. The story is bundled online with several interactive features, like an organ-by-organ chart of health problems caused by being overweight and a grocery nutrition calendar.

A strange new economic indicator emerges on the front page of the NYT: the number of calls to crime tip hotlines. These hotlines typically offer cash rewards for tips leading to arrests, and so some communities have found the phones are ringing off the hook, as hard times press more and more people into turning in friends and neighbors. One source quips that in some places squealing two or three times a week would pay better than a minimum-wage job.

The WP fronts the image crisis Republicans are facing after losing three straight special elections. The LAT is a little late to the party with this story, but the paper manages to eke a little more life out of it by focusing on what Sen. John McCain's presidential run could do to turn things around for the GOP.

The NYT fronts a piece on Barack Obama's life story, exploring how Obama's two memoirs helped turn him into a political phenomenon (or maybe it's the other way around), all the while raking in millions of dollars for the senator from Illinois.

The revolution will not be Facebooked—at least, not yet—says the WP. The paper covers the online birth and real-world demise of a pro-democracy protest in Egypt that was organized using Facebook.

Saying you're sorry might not make it all better, but it certainly seems to help, says the NYT. The paper says that a hospital that began letting doctors admit to mistakes faced dramatically fewer malpractice lawsuits. The theory is that apologies diffuse anger and that anger, not injury, is the prime motivator for many malpractice suits.

An immigration raid on a small Iowa town put 10 percent of the town's population in jail and has left the local economy in limbo, according to the WP.

Food research programs are now victims of their own success, says the NYT. As food stores rose over the last few decades, research budgets dedicated to improving agriculture in the developing world fell dramatically. But now crop yields are falling and some scientist are finding that they have the technology to help avert crop blights, but not the funding to put their ideas in action.

Meanwhile, the LAT reports that the food crisis has been a boon to hard-line Islamist parties, who use gifts of food to build political good will.

The NYT wants to know: If Hillary won't be the first female president, who will?

Jesse Stanchak is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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