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Pundits & Editorials

Obama's new foreign policy team receives praise, though the Hillary Clinton pick raises some doubts. Plus: Detroit 'grovels' before Washington.

• "When Barack Obama stood on the stage in Chicago yesterday with his 'dear friend' Hillary Clinton at his side, it was the starkest evidence yet that change had come -- to the president-elect," Dana Milbank quips.

Eugene Robinson evaluates Obama's newly appointed national security team, focusing on the threats the India terrorist attacks present: "There might be other issues that Obama and his team would like to tackle first. But as the carnage in Mumbai reminds us, terrorists don't wait their turn."


Bob Herbert doesn't "doubt that" Obama's team has "the best of intentions. But the people at the pinnacle of power in Washington are encased in a bubble that makes it extremely hard to hear the voices of those who aren't already powerful themselves."

• Also assessing the new foreign policy leaders, David Brooks suggests that Obama and his team should continue some of the Middle East policies put in place during President Bush's second term.

Richard Cohen cannot forgive Obama's newly appointed Attorney General Eric Holder for pardoning finance man Marc Rich while working under former President Bill Clinton. The pardon "suggests that Holder, whatever his other qualifications, could not say no to power," Cohen worries.


• Can Republicans "quickly address the fundamental problems facing their party?" Or will "they ignore or misdiagnose their problems and wait for Democrats to self-destruct?" Charlie Cook wonders, probing several top Republican consultants for answers.

DeWayne Wickham rejects calls for Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., to step down as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means while ethics violation charges against him are investigated.

Jonah Goldberg scrutinizes an anti-Proposition 8 TV ad that ran in California on Election Day, claiming at it unfairly targets Mormons.

E. J. Dionne Jr. explains that if lawmakers help the automakers, a bailout should "reflect the core reason it will pass: Long-term economic growth depends on a well-paid middle class... with real purchasing power. If saving our auto industry means moving GM workers ever closer to Wal-Mart wages, the bailout isn't worth doing."


• Addressing GM CEO Rick Wagoner, William McGurn insists that "Detroit needs two things today. First, it needs a restructuring that would allow auto workers to own their own health care -- and take it with them if they leave. Second, it needs someone like you to stand up and say so."

• "The federal government should buy GM; forget rathole loans or nonvoting equity shares," declares Dan Neil, the Los Angeles Times' auto critic. "By nationalizing GM, we can aim the company's astonishing resources at one of the biggest public-policy problems we have: oil."

• Citing Western newspapers' propensity for reporting on stories damaging to their own government, Bret Stephens charges that "when it comes to terrorists and their grievances, nearly all the Western media have provided them with a rich diet on which to feed."

• In his monthly column for the Washington Post, Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggests that in response to the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the international community should band together to declare that "parts of Pakistan have become ungovernable and a menace to international security."

• In the Wall Street Journal, Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili explains why he believes his military did not act irresponsibly when it took control of Tskhinvali in the South Ossetia region of Georgia earlier this year.

Anne Applebaum senses a disconnect between Russia and Europe. "The Russian political system -- based on crony capitalism, democratic rituals without democracy itself, heavy media controls, omnipresent criminality -- isn't of interest to anyone, and the Russians have trouble creating an empire around it."

From The Editorial Boards...

• "All of the national security officials Mr. Obama named" Monday "are proven pragmatists and team players," the Washington Post proclaims, seeking to refute talk that he's created a "team of rivals."

• "After years of watching American leadership crumble under the weight of bad decisions made in a White House shuttered to all debate," Obama's "national security team is a relief," the New York Times cheers.

• The Philadelphia Inquirer is equally impressed: "Obama has assembled a solid bipartisan team to restore frayed international alliances and combat global terrorism more effectively."

• "Obama's choice of" Clinton "to be his Secretary of State is either a political master stroke, or a classic illustration of the signature self-confidence that will come back to haunt him." The Wall Street Journal is "inclined toward the latter view."

• The Financial Times also has reservations about Secretary of State Clinton. "The main question is whether Mrs Clinton can subordinate not just her opinions but also her political ambitions to making the Obama administration a success.... Mr Obama has taken quite a risk -- one that, in our view, is difficult to justify."

• The Los Angeles Times contrasts Obama's newly appointed U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, to Bush's ambassador, John R. Bolton, wholeheartedly favoring Rice.

• "The Big Three" automakers "need help to survive to the other side of this recession. If to get it they have to grovel and pretend it was Congress that jerked them out of their lethargy, it's a small price. But from a Detroit perspective, it's a galling process to watch," the Detroit News laments.

• "Like Wall Street bankers and Detroit autoworkers, the nation's governors are turning to Washington in desperate economic times," the Boston Globe writes, commenting on a meeting occurring today between Obama and the National Governors Association. "And while the line of supplicants seeking bailouts is long, the governors have good reasons to seek help."

USA Today offers three economic promises that Obama made on the campaign trail "that could conveniently be deferred, preferably forever." These include renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, a windfall profits tax on Big Oil and the Employee Free Choice Act.

• In an opposing view, Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, maintains that Obama should keep all his economic campaign promises.

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