Cancer And The Presidential Race

The Skinny is Joel Roberts' take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.



The announcement by John Edwards that his wife Elizabeth's cancer had returned, and that he planned to continue with his presidential campaign, was front-page news in all the major daily newspapers Friday, along with speculation about how that decision could impact the race.

The Los Angeles Times said that "as a practical matter," the announcement would give the Edwards campaign far more attention in the coming days than it has received lately.

But, the paper added, "The long-term political implications are uncertain." His wife's illness may "engender sympathy" but some voters may also see his presidential bid as "a misplaced priority, especially if his wife's condition deteriorates."

The New York Times echoed those concerns, saying some Democrats had said Edwards' decision "could pose some risks should his wife's illness worsen and raise questions about his decision to continue campaigning in a race where he has often placed third in polls in an intensely competitive Democratic field."

USA Today, however, said that the decision to stay in the race was groundbreaking and that the couple was "writing a new chapter in the way political campaigns are waged. … Cancer, with its potential for triumph or tragedy, is now part of the 2008 presidential race."

Gates Sought Gitmo Shutdown

Robert M. Gates has been no wallflower since replacing Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary. He has acknowledged with far more candor than his predecessor that things are not going well for the U.S. in Iraq, he quickly fired top military officials after revelations about the Walter Reed scandal, and now there are reports that he pushed for the closing of the U.S. detention center for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The New York Times said in Friday's editions that soon after taking office, Gates argued repeatedly that Guantanamo Bay, where 385 prisoners, including 14 top al Qaeda leaders, are being held, had become "so tainted abroad" by allegations of torture and abuse that any trials held there would be widely viewed as illegitimate. He said the trials should instead be moved to the United States.

He was joined in calling for the facility's closing by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, administration officials said. But their arguments were rejected by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Vice President Dick Cheney's office – and ultimately by President Bush.

But the fight may not be over. A senior administration official tells the Times the future of the embattled attorney general, embroiled in the flap over the firings of U.S. attorneys, could influence the White House view on the future of Gitmo.

"Let's see what happens to Gonzales," the official aid. "I suspect this one isn't over yet."

Grizzlies' Rebound Could Mean They'll Be Hunted

The Bush administration is removing grizzly bears at Yellowstone National Park from the endangered species list after more than three decades.

And that could mean they'll be hunted again, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Two centuries ago there were more than 50,000 grizzlies in the lower 48 states. But by the mid-1970s, they had been "hounded and hunted to near-extinction."

Thanks to the federal protections, there has been a grizzly bear revival. Their population in and around Yellowstone has risen from fewer than 200 in 1975 to about 600 now.

"There is simply no way to overstate what an amazing accomplishment this is," Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett said.

But taking the bears off the list could allow them to be hunted again on a limited basis in some parts of Yellowstone region.

Critics vowed a battle over the government's action.

"We're going to take action to fight this," Louisa Willcox of the Natural Resources Defense Council said. "It's ill conceived and premature."
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