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EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

The death of the Senate and Bush's 'control freak' tendencies. Plus: The world laughs as Congress refuses to allow domestic oil drilling.

• "One of the missed opportunities of the primary season was that Hillary Clinton never gave a speech about gender comparable to Barack Obama’s speech about race," indicates Nicholas D. Kristof, adding that "racism is deeper, but sexism may be wider in America today."

David S. Broder praises Clinton for her "remarkable run.... She came closer to breaking the White House barrier than any woman in history. Someday, she or some other woman will go all the way. Whoever that is will owe Clinton's 2008 run a huge debt."

 

• "Unlike Clinton and Obama, Obama" and John McCain "actually have differences on policy," Margaret Carlson points out. "People may hang on every word because that's the kind of economy we're in. As for entertainment, we'll always have the Clintons. They're never leaving the building."

• "Talk about unnecessary disasters," Gail Collins quips, pointing to the controversy surrounding Obama's VP selection committee leader James Johnson's Wednesday resignation. "It’s like having your career ruined because you invited the wrong person to host a party in honor of your nephew’s godparents."

Jim Hoagland concludes that "what is important here is what this incident says about Obama, not about Johnson. The senator's initial reaction was to portray himself as too busy to keep up with the obscure financial doings of people who are not significant to the campaign and to belittle the media."

 

David Ignatius wonders how Obama's economic plan will play out. "Can a candidate who has gathered such a broad tent of supporters also find the intellectual spark that could make him a transformational president? What will he stand for, other than the generic idea of change? What's the cutting edge here?"

• Conservative columnist Cal Thomas and liberal Democratic strategist Bob Beckel look to "redefine the vice presidency" in USA Today.

• "Presidential politics, like football, chess and other rule-bound competitions, is simple in objective but complex in execution. The objective is 270 electoral votes," explains George F. Will, laying out "November's magic numbers."

Suzanne Fields examines the election through Europe's eyes. "The unfolding of the American presidential campaign is understood mostly through stereotypes. This sometimes makes meaningful conversations difficult."

 

• Linking skyrocketing gas prices to poor relations with the Middle East, Rosa Brooks chastises McCain for a joke he made in 2007 singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann." "Imagine newly elected President McCain making the same joke in January 2009. What do you think would happen to global oil prices?"

• "There’s nothing worse than a control-freak chief executive with no interest in details like the disbanding of the Iraqi Army or the strength of New Orleans levees," scoffs Richard Cohen about President Bush. "This deficiency of temperament has been devastating. America’s leader must still inspire and give hope."

• First lady Laura Bush, meanwhile, recounts her recent trip to Afghanistan in the Wall Street Journal and asserts that "our security depends on preventing al Qaeda from re-establishing a foothold in Afghanistan. The best way to do that is to counter al Qaeda's campaign of terror with an international campaign of support for Afghan democracy."

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Robert D. Novak lists a barrage of factors contributing to the "decline of the Senate," including the failed legislation relating to both global warming and energy policy. He quotes Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., as saying, "The facts show that the Senate is realistically dysfunctional. It is on life support, perhaps even moribund."

Daniel Henninger argues that the failed climate change bill "was a wake-up call. This is the year Americans joined the real world of energy costs. Now someone needs to explain to them why we -- and we alone -- are sitting on an ocean of energy but won't drill for it."

• In the Washington Post, novelist Karyn Langhorne Folan commemorates the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike "down a Virginia law preventing marriage between African Americans and whites. Every year on June 12, interracial couples across the country celebrate Loving Day, commemorating the ruling in Loving v. Virginia that made our unions lawful."

From The Editorial Boards...

The Hill commends Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., for being "notoriously prickly, markedly bright and -- this goes with the first two qualities -- brutally candid. This last quality can be refreshing (depending on where you happen to be standing) in a federal capital saturated with spin and humbug."

• "Amid $135 oil, it ought to be an easy, bipartisan victory to lift the political restrictions on" domestic "energy exploration and production," the Wall Street Journal reasons. "The U.S. remains one of the only countries in the world that chooses as a matter of policy to lock up its natural resources. The Chinese think we're insane and self-destructive, while the Saudis laugh all the way to the bank."

• Responding to the recent tomato recall, the New York Times contends that "industry, as well as consumers, need much better protection," from tainted food. "They should not have to wait until the next food scare before Washington comes to the rescue."

• The Washington Post agrees that "Congress should give agencies the power to protect the nation's food supply," adding that legislation could "make it easier to protect the nation's food supply and find the source of tainted meat and vegetables the moment an outbreak occurs -- not months and many victims later."

• The Dallas Morning News, on the other hand, maintains that Texas' tomatoes are A-okay. "Look closely at the Food and Drug Administration's all-points bulletin: Texas-grown tomatoes have been cleared as a suspect."

• "It might seem odd or irrational that people with an erratic, nuclear-armed dictator on their border are taking to the streets because of concerns about beef safety," USA Today says of the tens of thousands of South Koreans protesting U.S. beef imports. But the board thinks that they have a good reason for their protests: "relatively low standards that Washington has for combating mad cow disease."

• "There are two ways to read the U.S. Senate's defeat of a climate change bill," the San Francisco Chronicle concludes. "It was a wholesale dodge of global warming -- or it was a bruising prelim in a fight that may bring environmental change next year."

• "One important factor won't be considered when the Government Accountability Office rules next week on Boeing Co.'s appeal of its loss of a $40 billion aerial tanker contract," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch worries. "Are taxpayers getting the most bang for their 40 billion bucks? It could be that the Air Force picked the wrong plane."

• The Financial Times offers advice to the 67 governments and other donors meeting on Thursday in Paris to discuss international aid to Afghanistan. "There is a limit to what we can achieve if you lack the will or the capacity to do what is needed."

• The Christian Science Monitor fears that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is "right up there with the gun lobby in terms of political power... is not healthy for the political discourse that shapes US policy," and suggests an alternative.

• "How much do doctors who research new treatments for diseases benefit personally from drug company money?" the Boston Globe asks. "It's hard to know for sure. With government funding on the wane, money from pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers for research is unavoidable. The public at least deserves full and accurate disclosure of potential conflicts."

• The Philadelphia Inquirer also honors Loving Day: "There used to be a word for such unions: miscegenation. This horrible holdover from slavery days is, thank goodness, obsolete."

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