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Pundits & Editorials

Milbank recounts the 'ritual flagellation' at Geithner's hearing and Dionne pegs Obama as a 'radical.' Plus: Closing Gitmo will be the easy part.

Rosa Brooks aims to rebuke criticism of President Obama's inaugural speech, saying that it was "just right."

• "One of the wondrous aspects of Obama's inaugural address is the extent to which those on the left and those on the right both claimed our new president as their own," E. J. Dionne Jr. marvels, describing the speech as "radical."


Roger Cohen dissects the vocabulary in Obama's speech and what message it sends to Americans.

• Quipping that most inaugural addresses "speak to posterity, bypass the living, and are so crammed with generalities that you need carbon dating to know when they took place," Margaret Carlson is surprised that Obama's "was filled with the kind of substance usually reserved for the State of the Union."

George Curry reflects on the historic election of an African-American president, but presents numbers to show that "racial disparities still need to be eliminated."


• Acknowledging that "the inauguration left the whole country glued together emotionally, one big American ball of hope," Gail Collins sees trouble brewing at Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner's confirmation hearing Wednesday.

• "You would not be mistaken to think there was a bit of showbiz going on with Geithner's hearing," Dana Milbank notes, recounting what he describes as "3 1/2 hours of ritual flagellation."

• "The Obama presidency begins in paradox. On a day of immense import, the accession of the first black American to the White House, the stock market fell 332 points, the worst Inauguration Day sell-off in 113 years," observes Daniel Henninger.

David S. Broder puts forth "two reasons to think that Obama may be correct in claiming that his rapid rise from obscurity to the presidency may signal at least a cease-fire in the hyperpartisan warfare that consumed Washington during the 16 years of the Clinton and Bush presidencies."


• "There are two immediate litmus tests by which the world will begin to judge Mr. Obama at once," asserts Nicholas D. Kristof -- Guantanamo Bay and his Middle East policy.

• With the headline, "Recycling our fiscal errors," Steve Chapman argues that Obama's stimulus package is "more of the same."

• In the Washington Times, columnist Suzanne Fields wonders, now that the inaugural festivities are over, how Obama will tackle the monumental tasks he has in front of him.

• Also foreseeing grim challenges ahead for the new president, Joan Vennochi tells readers they should ask more questions, not less, of Obama.

• "Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military," former presidential candidate George McGovern writes to Obama in the Washington Post. "To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire."

From The Editorial Boards...

• The Wall Street Journal juxtaposes Obama's campaign promise to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay within a year with his rhetoric and actions in the past few weeks.

• The New York Times contends that bringing justice to Guantanamo detainees will be a lot more difficult than simply shuttering the facility.

• The Chicago Tribune concurs, but is hopeful Obama will find a compromise: "Assuring fairness and civilized conditions for the accused, while protecting the nation from bloodthirsty enemies, is harder in this war than in most. But the new administration can do better than the last one did."

• The Philadelphia Inquirer weighs in on Geithner's "stumbles," but concludes that the Senate will ultimately confirm him, primarily because these are "extraordinary times" in the financial sector.

• The Washington Post can "think of several pitfalls" to the Obama administration setting up a "government-funded 'bad bank'" -- the latest plan offered to prevent banks from further collapse.

The Hill senses a looming battle between Obama and health insurers, remarking that he "doesn't appear ready to play nice with this traditional boogeyman of the Democratic Party."

• "'Death and taxes' are often linked as life's two certainties. Yet, in the United States, there's a third link to this -- 'Democrats, death and taxes' -- one can always count on Democrats to levy or maintain a tax, if it is in their power, even at death's door," scoffs the Washington Times.

• Obama needs to disengage in Iraq "in a way that preserves hard-won gains and vital U.S. interests," USA Today maintains, reasoning that "if the cost of a stable Iraq involves narrowing the definition of 'combat' troops and leaving thousands as 'trainers' or 'advisers,' it is a price worth paying."

• "Obama must quickly show a radical change in policy by ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq (including military contractors)," Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace and Global Exchange, counters in an opposing view.

• Obama "must engage fully and evenhandedly to ensure" that the cease-fire in the Mideast holds. "The shelling of Israel and the flow of weapons to Hamas must be halted for good, with Egyptian and international monitors at the border," the Los Angeles Times insists.

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