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Pundits & Editorials

Geithner's 'tax woes' are scrutinized, while Bush's impending farewell speech incites cheers and jeers. Plus: Show me the TARP money.

Margaret Carlson senses drastic differences in the confirmation hearings of Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

• "In the scandal-obsessed capital, the latest public peccadillo has been met by uncharacteristic indifference," notes Dana Milbank, recounting the reaction to news that Geithner failed to pay some of his taxes.


• In the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III, put forth some concerns they want Attorney General-designate Eric Holder to address at his confirmation hearing.

David Broder sends along some advice that outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt has for his replacement, Tom Daschle.

• In the Washington Times, Michael Barone acknowledges that President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan displays "good politics" by reaching across the aisle, but wonders if it's "good policy."


E. J. Dionne Jr. explains what he sees as "three keys to understanding Obama's approach to (and avoidance of) ideology."

• Meanwhile, Rick Santorum believes "Obama has an ace in the hole among Senate Republicans. This unlikely ace can deliver not only the GOP moderates needed to break a filibuster, but also the stamp of bipartisanship: the 2008 GOP standard bearer, John McCain."

David Ignatius senses an opportunity for the country to move away from the "conservative optimism" style of foreign policy that characterized the Bush administration to a "progressive pessimism" style embodied by the incoming leadership.

• In USA Today, journalist Sandy Grady, who has covered eight presidential campaigns, pegs Obama as the "first Celebrity President" and cautions that all the hype surrounding his inauguration will subside once his administration starts being tested.


• In the Washington Times, columnist Suzanne Fields reflects on past inaugural speeches and speculates on what Obama might say.

• In the Los Angeles Times, Reforma columnist Denise Dresser reacts to the meeting between Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and stresses that this country "desperately needs to wage a more effective war against organized crime, and it must have the right kind of American help and incentives to succeed."

Daniel Henninger argues that President Bush should pardon Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007.

• Bush "ended up keeping his promise to be 'a uniter, not a divider,' though hardly in the way he intended: He leaves behind a united nation, brought together at last by a heartfelt desire to see him gone," quips Rosa Brooks.

Gail Collins conjures up some things she sarcastically hopes Bush will say in his farewell address tonight, concluding with: "Surprise! This has all actually been a bad dream. It's really still November of 2000 and tomorrow Al Gore is going to be elected president."

• "You would think people would learn. The recount in the contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franken for a seat in the U.S. Senate isn't just embarrassing. It is unconstitutional," law professor Michael Stokes Paulsen fumes in the Wall Street Journal.

• Reporting on the condition of Cambodian sweatshops, Nicholas Kristof maintains that "at a time of tremendous economic distress and protectionist pressures, there's a special danger that tighter labor standards will be used as an excuse to curb trade."

From The Editorial Boards...

• "The Senate Judiciary Committee should press" Holder "today about his role in and his rationale for supporting or not standing in the way of questionable pardons and commutations granted by President Bill Clinton," the Washington Post maintains.

• The Los Angeles Times asserts that Geithner's tax woes prove that the tax code's complex rules should be simplified.

• On the other hand, the New York Times notes that Geithner's past experience in the Treasury Department and New York's Federal Reserve Bank demonstrate that "tax transgressions are tough to excuse."

• "Should taxpayers fork over the" second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds? "The simple answer is yes, for the same reason that cancer patients agree to chemotherapy," USA Today argues. "The treatment is miserable, but it could be the only way to survive."

• In an opposing view, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, counters that several key questions need to be answered about TARP before Congress releases "any further taxpayer resources into a program that has failed to meet expectations."

• The Wall Street Journal editorial board believes that former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker would be an "ideal" person to oversee TARP because he "isn't afraid to take the heat and can also reassure the public."

• The Boston Globe supports a bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., that would "require institutions that take money from the $700 billion [TARP] to report quarterly on what they do with it."

• The Christian Science Monitor ponders how historians may evaluate Bush.

• The Washington Times commends the CIA for recently killing "two top al Qaeda leaders, Usama al-Kini, chief of al Qaeda operations in Pakistan, and his lieutenant Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan."

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