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EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

Commentators chastise Obama's 'false visage' and praise Rice's ignored foreign policy plan. Plus: cheers for the high court's child rape decision.

Hillary Rodham Clinton "has been saying that her supporters are moving through the five stages of grief," notes Gail Collins. "But she herself seems to have invented some brand-new sixth stage of chipper serenity... She ought to market her current mind-set as a brand of new age meditation or yoga."

• "How long will it be before" Bill Clinton and Barack Obama "actually talk? A long time, if Obama doesn't personally pay homage," Margaret Carlson predicts.

 

• In USA Today, conservative columnist Cal Thomas and liberal Democratic strategist Bob Beckel delve into Obama's decision to opt out of the public finance system.

Roger Cohen thinks Obama should visit a mosque. "Fear-mongering about Islam is a global industry. It thrives on ignorance. Obama has a unique power to break the cycle, not least by emboldening moderate Muslims to denounce terror. Nothing would do more in the long run for the security of the world."

• "As long as he was soaring above the fray with the lofty rhetoric of hope, change and unity, Mr. Obama could masquerade as a quasi-messiah figure. But once forced into the nitty-gritty of contested issues and debates, his false visage began to crack," scoffs David Limbaugh.

 

• Meanwhile, Byron York went to Illinois to find out what impact Obama has made there, and concludes: "In Chicago, Obama's talent was for convincing people to believe in change, not in actually changing things."

Robert D. Novak projects that Obama will be gaining the support of two prominent Republicans soon. "Looming on the horizon are two big potential Obamacons:"former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.

• Evaluating a Gallup poll that ranked Americans' confidence in Congress almost the lowest out of 16 institutions, Daniel Henninger argues that "the belief that Obama has come among us as the angel of change looks to be a mile wide in intensity and a quarter-inch deep in reality. Many institutions are caught between a divided politics pulling hard at opposite ends of the rope."

David S. Broder asserts that "the most serious distorting force in our elections" is "the way that district lines are drawn to create safe seats for one party or the other, in effect denying voters any choice of representation."

 

• Praising a new essay Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Rosa Brooks laments that it "has been almost universally ignored," especially by President Bush. "No one seems to care much, one way or the other, about the secretary of State's foreign policy philosophy."

George F. Will worries that the U.S. policy on educated immigrants is backwards. It "should be: A nation cannot have too many such people, so send us your PhDs yearning to be free. Instead, U.S. policy is: As soon as U.S. institutions of higher education have awarded you a PhD, equipping you to add vast value to the economy, get out. Go home. Or to Europe."

• "Many" Iraqi "youngsters are getting no education, and some girls are pushed into prostitution, particularly in Damascus," Nicholas D. Kristof reveals after a recent trip to Jordan, where many Iraqis have sought refuge. "Impoverished, angry, disenfranchised, unwanted, these Iraqis are a combustible new Middle Eastern element that no one wants to address or even think about."

From The Editorial Boards...

• "Obama is not quite sure where he stands on the North American Free Trade deal. He has changed his position on several occasions, all the while claiming to be consistent," maintains the Washington Times. "Mr. Obama needs to establish a trade policy that does not shift according to the preferences of the audience he is courting."

• Wednesday's report that Bank of America bought Countrywide and bailed it out "comes as no surprise. What is surprising is how many Senators still think this bailout is smart politics," remarks the Wall Street Journal.

• The Boston Globe dissects what it believes is the increasing politicalization of the Justice Department.

• The New York Times weighs in on two of the decisions the Supreme Court handed down Wednesday: striking down the death penalty for child rape and reducing the punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

USA Today agrees with the New York Times on its analysis of the court's child rape decision, commending the way that "the court has drawn a line at crimes that don't involve the killing of the victim."

• "The Supreme Court wisely has prevented a further expansion of a penalty that is already imposed freakishly and in a discriminatory way," applauds the Los Angeles Times. "The country, and the court, should be focusing on ending the death penalty, not devising new opportunities to render it."

• Despite "the confirmation of five members to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday," the Washington Post argues that "the years-long battle over appointments to jobs within the federal government continues as scores of men and women eager to serve have languished in confirmation limbo for months, if not years. This is no way to run a government."

• Analyzing several "lessons of fickle" government "subsidies for solar" power, the Christian Science Monitor concludes that "governments should not let their support for new energy get too far ahead of market prices."

• "A case can be made that amid all the effusive praise," Tim Russert "was not as tough on Washington insiders as has been portrayed," the Philadelphia Inquirer comments. "Yes, he was a very good interviewer, but not any better than Mike Wallace or Ed Bradley."

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