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Pundits & Editorials

No one's left out of the financial blame game, and McCain's mortgage plan raises concerns. Plus: AIG's half-million dollar post-bailout party.

Rosa Brooks answers a question from the debate Tuesday -- "What don't you know, and how will you learn it?" -- that she contends the candidates didn't directly respond to. She assumes John McCain will lose in November, and writes that what Barack Obama "doesn't know is how to keep the global economic crisis from sending all the rest of us to the bottom of the sea, right along with McCain and the GOP."

• In the Washington Times, columnist David Limbaugh insists that "we must applaud Sarah Palin for standing up to her opponents and returning hostile fire. We're ready for her to lead the charge, not only on Mr. Obama's sordid relationships but also in articulating the monumental differences between the liberal and conservative approaches to governance."


• Recalling that earlier in the election Obama's "most discussed weakness was a detached, even aloof manner depicted as proof of elitism," Margaret Carlson now declares that his "unflappable demeanor has a new name. It's called a presidential temperament."

• With the headline, "Clearing the Ayers," Gail Collins dismisses as invalid the guilty-by-association attacks McCain has used against Obama, especially the Democrat's connection to Weather Underground member William Ayers.

• "Do voters really expect the nation's chief executive to be computer-savvy? Does it matter if he is?" Fox News correspondent James Rosen asks in USA Today. "As a practical matter, no.... Symbolically, though, our egalitarian era might demand a president" who is "adept online."


• "Something strange is happening in this strangest of all presidential contests," senses David S. Broder. "The longer it goes on, the less we know about what either of these men would do if he were in the Oval Office next year."

Daniel Henninger asks readers to "consider the magnitude of" the financial "problems or the sheer, dumb size of the institutions. Another phrase of financial usage familiar everywhere now is 'too big to fail.' But if something is too big to fail, isn't it . . . too big?"

• "This global" financial "catastrophe increasingly... resemble[s] a bankruptcy" of a regular company, David Ignatius remarks. "But take heart in the fact that bankruptcy is an everyday fact of life and that under sensible management it's a process of stewardship rather than a death sentence."

Joan Vennochi expresses her disgust at the ubiquitous blame game surrounding the financial crisis and maintains that the "only common ground" is that "almost everyone blames President Bush for something, and nearly everyone concludes that more government is the answer to a crisis that flawed government policies helped to create."


• Also writing about who's to blame, Rick Santorum contends that "none of this financial collapse would have occurred... without the participation of one... group of bad actors, a group so powerful that most politicians have avoided railing against it: American borrowers."

• In the Washington Times, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, denounces the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's opposition to "E-Verify, the federal government's system that allows businesses to ensure that the employees they hire are legal," encouraging the chamber to "support policies that help the American worker and their employers who play by the rules."

• "The unhappy saga of U.S.-Spanish relations reflects bungled American foreign policy," Roger Cohen laments, dissecting Bush's lack of a relationship with Spain's Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero. "It's one thing to have a disagreement between friends, another to have discord fester through spite. Bush's vengeful streak is worthy of the schoolyard."

• "The Bush administration this month is quietly cutting off birth control supplies to some of the world's poorest women in Africa," Nicholas D. Kristof notes. "Thus the paradox of a 'pro-life' administration adopting a policy whose result will be tens of thousands of additional abortions each year -- along with more women dying in childbirth."

Patt Morrison reviews director Oliver Stone's new biopic about Bush, "W," but wonders: "If we're sick of him after eight years in the White House, will we want to spend another two hours with a version of him in a movie house?"

From The Editorial Boards...

• The Wall Street Journal criticizes McCain's American Homeownership Resurgence Plan: "McCain's plan to transform Treasury into a major mortgage lender, and running the operation at a potential $300 billion loss, raises more questions than it answers."

• The Washington Post agrees with the Journal, claiming that the plan "would benefit borrowers and lenders who made bad decisions and... lacks a clear mechanism for reassembling and extricating whole mortgages from the welter of securities 'tranches' into which Wall Street slices and dices them."

• "Each candidate still has some explaining to do" about their positions on criminal justice, the Boston Globe argues. "Voters deserve to hear more about why McCain voted against bipartisan crime bills during the 1990s. And Obama's position on the constitutionality of citywide bans on handguns remains murky, at best."

• "Taxpayers subsidize Wall Street and other moneyed interests in literally thousands of ways, with all sorts of outrageous consequences," USA Today fumes, listing four specific ways "that lend a sense of just how ridiculous the situation is."

• "The Wall Street executives who tried to explain themselves to Congress this week showed a galling lack of personal accountability and major chutzpah," the Philadelphia Inquirer marvels.

• "The collapse of government housing insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac illustrate perfectly what can go wrong when Russian-style crony capitalism replaces a genuine free market," the Washington Times jeers.

• With the headline, "AIG, party on!" the Chicago Tribune responds with derisive sarcasm to the financial firm's "weekend bash" in California, which cost almost a half-million dollars and occurred right after taxpayers' money bailed out the insurance giant.

• The Christian Science Monitor lays out two "serious challenges" the next administration will face: 1) "exploding federal deficit and debt" and 2) the "dismal shape of the federal government itself. It's top-heavy with managers and short on frontline troops who enforce regulations."

• "Without a major pullback from Iraq, the Pentagon will not have enough troops to fight in Afghanistan -- where the United States is in danger of losing the real war on terrorism against Al Qaeda and the Taliban," the New York Times fears.

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