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Pundits & Editorials

Two congressional reports spur talk of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the 'deteriorating' U.S. nuclear deterrent. Plus: Debunking anti-lobbying 'myths.'

• Despite President-elect Obama's pledge to "banish" lobbyists from the government arena, Robert J. Samuelson argues that an expanded government means more special interests and asserts that the "anti-lobbying bias is mythology."

• While commending Obama's choice for Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Daschle, Clive Crook cautions that "reforming U.S. health care is a heroic undertaking, crucial to long-term economic prospects.... What are Mr. Daschle's chances?"


• In the Washington Post, Lawrence Di Rita, special assistant to the secretary of Defense from 2001 to 2006, aims to "set the record straight" on media reports that claim Veterans Affairs Secretary-designate Eric Shinseki was a "stalwart opponent" of the war plan put forth by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration.

Nat Hentoff lays out several questions for Obama regarding CIA oversight and terrorist interrogations.

• The Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich "scandal is an unwanted distraction," columnist Michael Barone notes in the Washington Times. "It is a reminder that, for all his inspirational talk of hope and change, Mr. Obama, and Blagojevich both are products of Chicago Democratic politics, which is capable of producing leaders both sublime and sordid."


Eliza Newlin Carney discusses a conference she recently attended, where state and local election officials pondered a "radically different future for American elections."

• With the headline, "Recession's silver lining," Gregory Rodriguez senses that Americans see a challenge during tough economic times and believe that Obama, with such pivotal speeches as his forthcoming inaugural one, can help with these challenges.

• "The plight of U.S. automakers is one of their own making," Donald Lambro scoffs. "They failed to listen to the market's demands for smaller, fuel-efficient, dependable cars. They gave away the store to militant labor unions that demanded huge wage boosts, retirement plans and other benefits that the companies could not possibly afford."

• "There is a kind of undeserved disdain, even casual contempt, that seems to characterize the attitude of the political and media elites toward the American auto industry," William Kristol remarks.


L. Gordon Crovitz worries about the implications of a newly released think tank report that found that the Internet systems of the "departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Commerce all have had intrusions by unknown foreign entities."

• In the Washington Post, former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke recounts the development of "the most important bilateral relationship in the world today" -- the one between the U.S. and China.

• Recounting a recent trip to a church in Guantanamo, Cuba, Roger Cohen finds himself impelled to compare New York's financial disaster to that of "the economic ravages of Cuba's head-in-the-ground Communism."

• "The European economic mess isn't getting very much attention here, because we're understandably focused on our own problems. But" Paul Krugman rationalizes that "the world's other economic superpower -- America and the European Union have roughly the same G.D.P. -- is arguably in as much trouble as we are."

From The Editorial Boards...

Timothy Geithner, Obama's choice for Treasury secretary, "has some explaining to do," the New York Times declares. The board has issues with Geithner's involvement in the collapse of Lehman Brothers and A.I.G. while he was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

• Praising Obama's Energy secretary choice, Steven Chu, the Los Angeles Times acclaims that "if there's a clearer signal of the radical course correction we can expect under President Obama, we've yet to see it."

• Reflecting on how Obama "stood up for education reform" while he was on the campaign trial, the Boston Globe insists that he "needs to show he meant it by appointing an education secretary wedded to reform - not one inclined to settle for low standards."

• "On significant matters of disagreement" between the two political parties - "such as health care and immigration" - the Washington Times urges "Obama to at least consider more centrist-to-conservative arguments."

• "A short-term loan will help the Big Three stave off immediate failure." But the Philadelphia Inquirer warns, "the demise of the bailout legislation means the new Congress and new president have even more urgent work ahead of them."

• The Washington Post condemns North Korean prison camps and implores the State Department to act more urgently on these types of issues.

USA Today rejoices in a congressional report that concluded, "by a 17-0 vote, that Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the abuses that so damaged the American interests" in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal of 2004.

• Referencing a soon-to-be-released congressional report that finds the U.S. "will need a nuclear deterrent for the indefinite future," the Wall Street Journal frets over whether Obama will "modernize America's nuclear deterrent or let it continue to deteriorate."

• "It was easy for Europe to posture as leaders on climate change while George W. Bush was in the White House." The Financial Times editorial board believes that "the EU now needs to show more conviction if it is to persuade" Obama "to follow its lead."

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