U.S. Push Fails To Secure Baghdad

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

Three months after the start of President Bush's troop buildup in Iraq, the operation has fallen far short of its initial goal to reclaim control of Baghdad neighborhoods, according to a report in Monday's New York Times.

Citing an internal U.S. military assessment completed in late May, the Times said American and Iraqi forces are able to "protect the population" and "maintain physical influence" over less than one-third of the capital's 457 neighborhoods.

In the remaining parts of Baghdad, efforts to root out insurgents had either not begun or still faced "resistance."

The Times called the assessment "the first comprehensive look at the progress of the effort to stabilize Baghdad with the heavy influx of additional troops," the last of whom are now arriving in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who commands the First Cavalry Division, which has responsibility for Baghdad, acknowledged that the operation "is at a difficult point right now, to be sure."

Brooks, in an interview with The Times, pinned some of the blame on Iraq police and army units, who had been expected to assume some of the basic security tasks. He said the Iraqis had not provided all the forces promised, and in some cases have performed badly.

One senior military officer called the U.S. assumption that basic security could be established in Baghdad by this summer "way too optimistic."

Debate Rates Few Headlines

With 17 months to go before the presidential election, is it front-page news every time a bunch of candidates get together for a debate?

Apparently not.

Although all the major dailies agreed that last night's second meeting of Democratic wannabes in New Hampshire was livelier than the campaign's first debate in South Carolina, only the Washington Post included a Monday morning recap of the event on page one.

The New York Times opted to run a long feature on how Republican candidate Mitt Romney's political fortunes are tied to his success as a businessman on its front page, relegating its coverage of the "spirited clash" to page A14.

The Los Angeles Times ran its debate story on page A12, while the Wall Street Journal had the debate as the fifth item in its news box, with a longer story on page A7.

An NBA Stud And A Thoroughbred

What do an NBA stud and a thoroughbred racing champion have in common? They're both featured on the front pages Monday morning.

USA Today highlights the breakthrough performance by basketball phenom LeBron James, who almost single-handedly carried his Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA finals, "living up to the outsized expectations that surrounded him even before he entered the league as a teenager four years ago."

James is expected to give the NBA's flagging TV ratings a boost, and help his team and sponsors like Nike cash in (James has a $90 million contract with the sneaker maker). But just who's going to share in the winnings from another star athlete's success is up in the air.

The New York Times reports that it may take a court fight to decide who owns Curlin, the horse that won last month's Preakness Stakes, the second leg in horse racing's Triple Crown.

The Times says a winemaker, a computer magnate, an investment banker and two lawyers are among those involved in a convoluted argument over ownership of Curlin, who in addition to millions in race purses is worth a reported $30 million as a stallion prospect.

A NOTE TO READERS: The Skinny is now available via e-mail. Click here and follow the directions to register to receive it in your inbox each weekday morning.

  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.