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Pundits & Editorials

Fund measures Feinstein's Senate influence, while Noonan dismisses the 'magic' of former presidents. Plus: Chicago papers want to see Blagojevich impeached.

• As Vice President Dick Cheney read the final tally of the electoral college results of the presidential race Thursday in Congress, Dana Milbank observed some lawmakers, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., behaving "according to the current fashion: badly."

• "Well, the new year has quickly shown us that President-elect Barack Obama's transition is not perfect," Charlie Cook asserts, pointing to the criticism surrounding his choice for spy chief, Leon Panetta, and the "pay-to-play" allegations against his former Commerce secretary pick Bill Richardson.


• With the headline, "Obama's Big-Tent Stimulus," E. J. Dionne Jr. discusses the politics and substance behind the incoming president's plans for an economic stimulus package.

• "In the short term, of course, Obama needs to focus on unfreezing credit and getting past the recession. But after that?" Jonathan Rauch thinks "he needs a long-term growth program, a post-bailout blueprint for American and global prosperity."

• Meanwhile, Paul Krugman worries that the economic plan Obama is "offering isn't as strong as his language about the economic threat. In fact, it falls well short of what's needed."


• "Today there is wide support for fiscal stimulus. It's just that there is no historical experience to tell us how to do it, and there is no agreement on how to make it work," David Brooks contends, noting that "economists' prescriptions are all over the map."

Kimberley A. Strassel, contrasting the situations of Senate hopefuls Roland Burris and Al Franken, notes that "Democrats were only too happy to install an unpleasant 'comedian' with a dubious victory, while turning away a law-abiding Illinois official with a legal appointment."

• "Depending on which Democrat you talk with, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is either becoming the conscience of the Senate or Majority Leader Harry Reid's biggest headache," John Fund reveals.

• Referencing the get-together this week of all of the living U.S. presidents, Peggy Noonan scoffs at the "over-awe" former presidents enjoy. "We treat them as if they are the Grand Imperial Czar of the Peacock Throne, and we their 'umble servants. It's no good, and vaguely un-American."


President Bush's time in office has been like a "failed marriage," quips William Schneider, adding that the American people are looking forward to the "honeymoon" in their new marriage with Obama.

• Meanwhile, Al Neuharth offers some reasons why he considers himself a Bush "sympathizer."

Stuart Taylor Jr., scrutinizes a recent report by the Senate Armed Services Committee on the treatment of prisoners.

Ronald Brownstein forecasts a powerful realignment of the political landscape, triggered by drastic demographic changes.

Charles Krauthammer concludes that "there are only two possible endgames" in the Mideast conflict: "(A) a Lebanon-like cessation of hostilities to be supervised by international observers, or (B) the disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza."

• "Israel has every right to protect its own citizens from the implacable foes on its borders. Support for Israel in her time of need, from both Democrats and Republicans, is not just the logical choice. It is both a strategic and moral imperative," House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., maintain in the Washington Times.

• In the Washington Times, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade writes a letter to Obama, explaining what his forthcoming presidency means to the African nation.

From The Editorial Board...

• "By reversing ground and moving to seat" Burris, "Senate Democrats and their leader leave the impression that their principles are all too pliable," USA Today chides.

• In an opposing view, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., counters that "the Congressional Black Caucus unanimously believes that" Burris, "who was appointed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, should be accepted by the Senate to fill" Obama's vacant Senate seat.

• Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune insists that Blagojevich should be impeached, referring to a report a Special Investigative Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives issued this week.

• The Chicago Sun-Times agrees.

• Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., "visits the Senate today for her confirmation hearing to become" Obama's "Secretary of Labor. One question" the Wall Street Journal would "like to hear asked is what Ms. Solis really thinks about secret ballots in workplace issues. It seems she's been on both sides of the question."

• Incoming Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle's confirmation hearing "did not tell" the New York Times "much at all about how the incoming Obama administration intends to pay for its emerging health care programs."

• While former President Bill Clinton's "fundraising has been an appearance of a conflict waiting to happen with his wife a senator, it will only get worse and more troublesome once" Hillary Rodham Clinton "is confirmed as secretary of state," cautions the Washington Post.

• "In establishing new marine monuments there this week... Bush gave himself a notable, yet still faint, consolation prize in what otherwise has been a lost eight years for the environment," the Boston Globe remarks.

• The Christian Science Monitor urges Egypt to ensure that Iran cannot smuggle weapons through its tunnels to Hamas. Doing so, the board posits, "can force Hamas to back down."

• The Washington Times wonders if Hamas is using Lebanon as a second front to attack Israel.

• The Los Angeles Times asserts that the "battle between Russia and Ukraine that has choked off natural-gas supplies to much of Europe" reflects a "more menacing" problem resembling a "calculated strategy by Russia to regain influence over countries that were once part of the Soviet empire and to neutralize European opposition."

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