All of today's papers lead with news that President Bush has agreed to a "general time horizon" for U.S. troop withdrawals from combat missions in Iraq.
Bush has often derided Democratic calls for a withdrawal timetable—but he's now agreeing to a "general time horizon for meeting aspirational goals," including troop cuts the New York Times calls "notional," at the behest of Iraq's prime minister. The president says his position is consistent with changes on the ground, but that hasn't stopped Dems in Congress from gloating.
The NYT also leads with a historic number of felons seeking pardons during President Bush's final days. The piece asks if Bush will "pre-empt long-term investigations" by pardoning officials involved in controversial anti-terror policies but doesn't find any answers.
The NYT goes big with an informative rundown on each element of America's economic meltdown. Take away: We're all screwed! Probably.
The Wall Street Journal fronts a look at today's meeting between U.S. and Iranian diplomats—the highest-level contact since 1979. The U.S. and the EU have united (finally) to offer a sanctions-for-suspension-of-enrichment package.
The Washington Post goes up top with Barack Obama's coming visit to Eurasia, where he'll try to boost his commander-in-chief numbers. (Slate's John Dickerson explains what could go wrong here.) Obama's schedule is secret for security reasons, but John McCain does his best to blow his opponent's cover on Page A06: "I believe that either today or tomorrow—I am not privy to his schedule—Senator Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other senators."
A Los Angeles Times front makes a big deal out of McCain's newest dilemma: Will he back the Bush administration's bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Or will he heed conservatives and demand "containment" and defunding of the mortgage lenders? Tough call.
The WP features a look at China's massive pre-Olympic security crackdown—which aims to prevent everything from pro-Tibet banner unfurlings to al-Qaida attacks on President Bush. Especially onerous are new visa restrictions that a piece on A09 says are driving away tourists and Western expats.
The NYT fronts a pegless piece (next to a look at the economic plight of gala organizers in the Hamptons) that ponders why America is the only country to bar illegally obtained evidence from criminal trials.
Barron YoungSmith is the former online editor of the New Republic.