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EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

Commentators discuss Dingell's 'fall from power' and Stevens' 'poignant' departure. Plus: Medvedev lays out his country's role in the global economy.

• "While the nation's capital obsesses over Barack Obama's next Cabinet pick, the president-elect's lieutenants are engaged with what may be a more important long-term issue," E. J. Dionne Jr. asserts. "What will become of Obama's vast grass-roots network?"

• Listing the Ivy League schools that Obama and his administration officials attended, David Brooks quips that it "will be a valedictocracy -- rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we're screwed."

 

• The "downside" to picking Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State is "obvious," Peggy Noonan remarks. "To invite in the Clintons -- and it's always the Clintons, never a Clinton -- is to invite in, to summon, drama that will never end. Ever. This would seem to be at odds with the atmospherics of Obamaland."

Dana Milbank reflects upon the farewell speech of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, on the Senate floor Thursday. The scene had "poignancy.... As the old men on both sides of the aisle rose to bid adieu to Stevens, they seemed also to be saying farewell to their era, a time when the Senate was, for better or worse, a gentlemen's club."

• Since "Democrats aren't likely to get the 60 seats they need to automatically cut off a filibuster," Kimberley Strassel points out that "they will have to pick off Republicans" to get legislation through. Standing in the way is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., "one of the shrewdest Senate operators in recent history, and a man who knows the institution inside-out."

 

• "As George W. Bush's presidency winds down, the Republican Party's greatest problem is that it doesn't appear to be reaching much of anybody who isn't already watching Fox News," Ronald Brownstein asserts. "Bush leaves behind a party that looks less like a coalition than a clubhouse."

• Meanwhile, Charlie Cook examines the "Republican Party's badly damaged brand" and the "re-positioning" the GOP has done over the past decade, which he deems "ill-conceived."

Paul Krugman senses the "emergence of a power vacuum at the height of the financial crisis" that resembles the one preceding the Great Depression. "It's scary to think how much more can go wrong before Inauguration Day," he frets.

• "This week's debates over whether public money should be used to rescue the Big Three automakers missed this key point: Why should any bosses who got their company into a mess be saved from their misdeeds?" Al Neuharth asks with incredulity.

 

• "The truth is that the chief executives of the Big Three automakers could have hitchhiked to Washington to beg for alms and they still would have been raked over the coals. But the fact that they came in their corporate jets was a bit much," Eugene Robinson acknowledges.

• Meanwhile, Clive Crook contends that "the politics of bailing out the big U.S. car companies is proving a bit more complicated than the firms' managers or the United Auto Workers expected."

• "Judicial vetoes of presidential and congressional national security policies have emerged as the most important ongoing issue of national policy before the courts," Stuart Taylor declares.

• In the Wall Street Journal, Attorney General Michael Mukasey lays out how he thinks Congress should handle the legalities surrounding the trials of former Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Michael Gerson examines the "status of forces" agreement with Iraq, which is expected to pass the Iraqi Parliament next week. "The approval of the SOFA would leave a chapter of history decorated with paradoxes."

• In the Washington Times, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discusses his hopes for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Russia's role in cooperative efforts.

• Also in the Washington Times, Cal Thomas expresses concern over a report from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), which found a "large number of Americans cannot pass a basic 33-question civic literacy test on their country's history and institutions."

From The Editorial Boards...

• Michigan Rep. "John Dingell's fall from power" Thursday "is an important inflection point in the history of the modern Democratic Party," the Wall Street Journal declares. "It is symbolic of the party's change in culture and policy priorities in the" Obama "era."

USA Today believes that Congress sent a "clear message to the auto executives" this week: "that one way or another, through bankruptcy or through a government-sponsored loan, they have to come to grips with reality."

• The Detroit News urges the auto companies to "sharpen their political skills and make a better showing when they return to Congress on Dec. 2. We also caution lawmakers to consider carefully the broader impact of a collapse of the domestic automotive industry."

• "US consumer prices fell in October at the steepest rate since 1938. If that starts a self-reinforcing downward spiral in prices," Obama "will need Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke more than ever," the Christian Science Monitor argues, praising "the former Princeton scholar" as "an expert on deflation, a pernicious destroyer of wealth."

• With the headline, "Christmas: Too Big To Fail," the Chicago Tribune suggests the government issue another economic stimulus plan so Americans can afford to shop for the holidays.

• "With many hands and many causes clamoring to get into the public Treasury, and the economy in a tizzy, it is vital to the nation's very survival that the real needs of national defense in this volatile world be first in line," the Washington Times maintains.

• The Washington Post commends a federal district ruling handed down Thursday that ordered the release of five "enemy combatants" being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility.

• "Note to Al Qaeda: If you insist on trying to insult" Obama, "the United States' first African American president-elect, falling back on the tropes of an America that no longer exists simply is not going to work," the Los Angeles Times scoffs.

• "Afghanistan's swift unraveling has created new -- and in some quarters unrealistic -- enthusiasm for talks with the Taliban," the New York Times observes. "We agree that there should be a serious effort to win over lower-level militants and tribal leaders," but the board is "deeply skeptical that there is any deal to be cut with Taliban leaders who gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda before 9/11."

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