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Pundits & Editorials

Commentators evaluate Obama's executive orders and recount their inaugural tales. Plus: Brooks and Fund scrutinize the stimulus plan.

Ronald Brownstein concludes that "like the man himself, President Obama's Inaugural Address was tougher than it first sounded."

• "Obama's speech was a carefully crafted self-contradiction, with a beginning and end that could have been delivered by a conservative and a middle that envisioned government unleashed from constitutional restraints," columnist Terence P. Jeffrey remarks in the Washington Times.


Charles Krauthammer focuses on the topics Obama didn't explicitly address in his speech -- race and Martin Luther King Jr.

Paul Krugman dismisses the address as too "conventional."

Peggy Noonan recounts her experience at the inauguration, maintaining that Obama "claimed a lot of moderate territory in his Inaugural Address," but cautioning that "no one is certain, still, what governing philosophy guides him."


Kathleen Parker also describes her inaugural experience, observing "karmic images" of the new and former presidents throughout the ceremony.

Michael Gerson senses that the inaugural festivities clarified "the contrast between two types of Obama enthusiasm -- one admirable, the other insufferable."

• "There is an America that watched with hope and excitement as" Obama "took the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States. And there is an America that watched with dread and skepticism," Charlie Cook explains.

Dana Milbank evaluates White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' performance in his first briefing Thursday and quips about the oft-used phrase, "an abundance of caution."


William Schneider wonders how long Americans will give Obama to turn the economy around.

Stuart Taylor Jr. is impressed by "the balance struck by Obama and his Attorney General-designate Eric Holder on the need to remain vigilant against terrorism while undoing" the former administration's "claims of virtually unlimited presidential power to override civil liberties."

Jackson Diehl is not impressed with George Mitchell, Obama's pick for special envoy to the Mideast, slamming Mitchell's earlier diplomatic efforts in the region.

John Fund contends that Obama's advisers, such as David Axelrod, are ignoring facts that suggest the economic stimulus plan is a bad idea.

• Meanwhile, David Brooks details "three essential failings" of the stimulus bill emerging from the House.

Kimberley A. Strassel thinks Obama would be wise not to look too deeply into the interrogation practices of the Bush administration.

Eugene Robinson disagrees: "Obama should form an official blue-ribbon panel, some sort of 'truth commission,' to investigate" President Bush's "conduct of his 'war on terror' and report to the American people."

• In the Washington Times, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., explains why he believes the U.S. needs to help Pakistan more with non-military assistance.

From The Editorial Boards...

• "A new president needs a first-class, experienced economic team in place quickly, and" Timothy Geithner "is eminently qualified to lead it," USA Today contends. "His IRS blunders are embarrassing but not disqualifying."

• "This country is not in such dire circumstances that we need to confirm" Geithner "as Treasury secretary without examining his background," Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., counters in an opposing view.

• The New York Times welcomes Obama's executive orders on transparency, but points out instances where his administration is already finding excuses to be not quite so open.

• Obama "has begun the rehabilitation of this country's reputation when it comes to the treatment of suspected terrorists. But," the Los Angeles Times worries that "the orders contain ambiguities that demonstrate how hard it will be to unwind the tangle that" Bush "created."

• Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal criticizes Obama's "executive order on interrogation: It imposes broad limits on how aggressively U.S. intelligence officers can question terrorists, but it also keeps open the prospect of legal loopholes that would allow them to press harder in tough cases."

• The Washington Times cautions that Obama's decision to close the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay may endanger America by forcing it to resettle some of the detainees on U.S. soil.

• Obama "has a chance to follow through quickly on another promise that can send shock waves." The San Francisco Chronicle encourages him to "let California and 18 other states set tough limits on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles."

• The Washington Post commends Obama for fulfilling a campaign promise and meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and senior military commanders to discuss troop withdrawal from Iraq.

• The Christian Science Monitor puts forth ways in which individuals can fulfill Obama's inaugural call for Americans to participate in a "new era of responsibility."

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