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EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

Dionne predicts the power of the youth vote and Brooks criticizes Obama's rhetoric. Plus: the Hill gets a workout.

David Brooks senses a sort of "radical optimism" in all of Barack Obama's speeches, including his one in Berlin Thursday. The speech "fed the illusion that we could solve our problems if only people mystically come together. We should help Israelis and Palestinians unite. We should unite to prevent genocide in Darfur. We should unite so the Iranians won't develop nukes."

• "In a stunning upset," Obama "this week won the Iraq primary," Charles Krauthammer declares, explaining how Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's endorsement of Obama's troop withdrawal plan "relieved Obama of a major political liability" at home.

 

• But the New Republic's James Kirchick argues in the Politico that John McCain was right on the surge and is the better candidate for president: "Choosing a president this November, voters would do well to remember which candidate -- during America's darkest days in Iraq -- called for retreat and which one presciently counseled a strategy for victory."

• "Ironically, victory in Iraq could mean defeat for" McCain. "Crown the lucky" Obama, "bury the courageous Mr. McCain. What a fate for a warrior senator who has played a key leadership role in Iraq's emerging victory," laments columnist Austin Bay in the Washington Times.

Eugene Robinson contends that "Obama helped make the good luck that he's now enjoying... but a run of bad luck doesn't justify McCain's increasingly angry rhetoric."

 

• "Obama has a problem: What do you do when you're a lightly accomplished one-term senator, a former state legislator from Illinois, a Harvard law graduate who has no substantive record of accomplishments and are running against a war hero whom polls show that Americans overwhelmingly view as far more fit to be commander in chief? Pose, of course," quips columnist Maggie Gallagher in the Washington Times.

Kimberley A. Strassel accuses the Democrats of pushing forward their "K Street project": blurring the lines of the revolving door between Congress and lobbyists.

• Citing numbers showing the youth vote is on the rise, E.J. Dionne Jr. remarks that "young Americans show all the signs of being interested enough and upset enough to flock to the polls this year. If they do, they could be the most politically consequential generation since the cohort of the Great Depression and World War II."

• In the Philadelphia Inquirer, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., applaud Congress' amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act: "The new legislation would replace the cramped reading of disability rights with a definition that is broad and fair."

 

Dana Milbank recounts fitness guru Richard Simmons' visit to the Hill on Thursday. "Simmons had spent the morning testifying before the House Education and Labor Committee about the need for more phys ed in schools. But he devoted just as much time to helping the lawmakers feel better about themselves."

• "There seems to me no question that the Batman film 'The Dark Knight'... is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war," author Andrew Klavan pronounces in the Wall Street Journal.

• "Higher gas prices are here to stay, so American consumers are going to be pushed toward greater efficiency, no matter what. To lessen the pain, and to protect our economic well-being, Democrats in Congress should let the drilling begin," suggests Jonathan Last.

• In the Financial Times, Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz reasons that even if" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "are too big to fail, they are not too big to be reorganised. In effect, the administration is indeed proposing a form of financial reorganisation, but one that does not meet the basic tenets of what should constitute such a publicly sponsored scheme."

From The Editorial Boards...

• "The obviously unbalanced amount of" election "coverage doesn't mean that this newspaper or others chronicling Obama's trip are biased against McCain," the Chicago Tribune maintains. "It means that Obama's first trip to the Middle East and Europe is bigger news this week than what McCain's been doing."

• The Wall Street Journal evaluates Obama's Berlin speech and concludes that a lot of what he said there is at odds with the overall message his campaign has been delivering throughout the election.

• "When" Obama "addresses 6,000 minority journalists gathered in his Chicago hometown for a convention Sunday," the Seattle Times recommends he "take up an issue crucial to their future: media ownership."

• "Instead of dealing with the" oil "issue on the merits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a staunch opponent of offshore drilling, has simply decreed that she will not allow a drilling vote to take place on the House floor. Why not?" demands the Washington Post.

• "If the Senate could summon some wisdom, it would interrupt its mud wrestling over partisan placebos for the gas crisis long enough to debate something real: emergency help for the nation's poorest families who face skyrocketing home heating costs this winter," the New York Times fumes.

• "It is time to acknowledge that the ethanol lobby... has hijacked U.S. energy policy," USA Today declares.

• In an opposing view, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association Bob Dinneen insists that "biofuels provide one means of mitigating oil's devastating impact on our economy, including the higher price of food."

• "Legislation introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) would compensate soldiers $1,500 per month for extended duty," the Philadelphia Inquirer explains. "It would be a well-deserved reward for enduring the Pentagon's unfair 'stop-loss' policy."

• "The detention center at Guantanamo hangs on the U.S. like a ball and chain. Both presidential candidates and President Bush want it closed. But that won't be easy without broad consensus on how to deal with current and future detainees," the Christian Science Monitor projects.

• The Washington Times senses that "the ascension to power of new" Russian President Dmitry Medvedev "in May has done little to reverse the anti-American course established by his predecessor and current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin."

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