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Pundits & Editorials

Professors predict what role Muslims and Jews will have in the election and senators blame the FAA for air traffic gridlock. Plus: Is China ready for the Olympics?

• "With polls showing the presidential contest between John McCain and Barack Obama getting closer, a question is now looming larger and larger. Is skin color going to be the deciding factor?" NPR/Fox News political analyst Juan Williams wonders in the Wall Street Journal.

• In the Los Angeles Times, founder of political Web site Nate Silver analyzes whether or not Obama is "underachieving": "The problem for Obama is not so much that he's underperforming a generic Democrat. It's that he hasn't yet been able to re-brand McCain as a typically conservative Republican."


• "The current political climate makes this election look like it should be a gimme putt for Democrats, yet with Obama seen as the only golfer on the green sizing up the shot, Democrats can't be certain that they will nail it," Charlie Cook writes.

Fred Hiatt weighs in on how Obama should respond to McCain's "negative ads (subscription) and petty misrepresentations" of last week, but ultimately recommends the two need to commit to more substantive debates.

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• "There seem to be at least four competing theories in the McCain camp, which, while not entirely mutually exclusive, point in different vice-presidential directions," reveals William Kristol.

• "If the presidential race is close," American Jews "will determine its outcome, because so many of them live in California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas... the states with the largest number of electors in the Electoral College," Temple University professor Edward Bernard Glick projects in the Washington Times.

• In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi maintains that Obama "needs to mend fences with Muslim Americans and Arab Americans."

• Pointing to the "$11.3 billion pork-barrel bill" proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that failed last week, Donald Lambro scoffs at the spending habits of Congress, and applauds Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., for "trying to regain the trust of the GOP's disillusioned base as the party of fiscal discipline."


• "We've been experiencing a sort of slow-motion meltdown, lacking in dramatic Black Fridays and such," explains Paul Krugman. "The gradual way the crisis has unfolded has led to an angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin debate among economists about whether what we're suffering really deserves to be called a recession."

Clive Crook has a more pessimistic outlook: "The U.S economy may not be in recession, but this is the nearest thing to it... What more can be done? The short answer is nothing."

L. Gordon Crovitz denounces the "Federal Communications Commission's announcement on Friday that it will replace market solutions with regulatory review" on the Internet. "Government's role on the Web is to ensure more competition and more consumer choice, not less competition and diminished consumer choice by turning the Web into a regulated industry."

• "The collapse of the Doha trade round -- the first breakdown of global trade talks since the 1930s -- is vivid evidence that we have not found a way to partner with newly rising powers such as China and India," Fareed Zakaria concludes.

From The Editorial Boards...

• The Washington Times criticizes the tax plans of both McCain and Obama: "Neither of them is certain to succeed in balancing the budget or lowering the debt -- if they even get through Congress at all."

• "There is nothing wrong in Mr McCain hammering away at Mr Obama's policies or lack of experience," the Financial Times reasons. "What is so disappointing in Mr McCain's new strategy is the derisive and debased tone of the attacks."

• "Given one last shot at taking modest but meaningful steps to deal with tightening oil supplies and climate change, the Senate instead settled for a schoolyard blame game whose main purpose was to exploit public dismay over rising gasoline prices for short-term political gain," the New York Times fumes.

• In calling for Congress to allow domestic drilling, the Chicago Tribune reasons that "it's critical to reduce the U.S. dependence on oil. But it's most critical to reduce the U.S. dependence on foreign oil."

• "We often disagree with Tom Daschle, but the former Senate Majority Leader had it right yesterday when he said that last week's suicide of a U.S. microbiologist shouldn't end the probe into the 2001 anthrax attacks," the Wall Street Journal asserts. "Given how the FBI has mishandled this case, the Bush Administration has an obligation to make its evidence and the history of its investigation public."

• "So far, light regulation of the credit card business has been a good thing," the Washington Post believes, writing on the increase in credit card usage. "But it is possible to have too much regulation."

USA Today contends that air travel's gridlock is caused by local opposition to common-sense solutions like building new runways and concludes that local interests "don't deserve a veto. At some point, the national interest has to prevail."

• In an opposing view, New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez (D) and Frank Lautenberg (D), blame the Federal Aviation Administration for consumers' air travel woes. "It's time the FAA becomes the responsive and responsible agency that travelers deserve. It should start by listening to the chorus of voices asking it to give the airspace redesign another look."

• "Beijing wasn't ready for the Olympics in 2001, when it was selected to host the Games, and days before the opening ceremonies, it still isn't ready," warns the Los Angeles Times. "That's something the" International Olympic Committee "should ponder the next time it's tempted to try to spread freedom via freestyle."

• Responding to the failed Doha trade rounds, the Christian Science Monitor predicts that the "time may now be ripe for the US to create a new grouping of nations dedicated to both free trade and democracy, excluding countries that reject a commitment to freedom," such as China and Russia.

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