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Pundits & Editorials

Obama seeks to refute his stimulus bill critics while the House GOP gets props for voting against it. Plus: Wall Street's 'dunderheadness.'

• "The immediate loss" of Tom Daschle "is much greater than the gain" of Judd Gregg, "but the payoff on Gregg, the third Republican in the Cabinet, will be substantial down the road," David S. Broder predicts.

Donald Lambro criticizes the Obama transition team for its "sloppy vetting" process, citing the tax woes of three nominees and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's pay-to-play allegations.


• Noting that Nancy Killefer owed less than $1,000 in taxes, James Taranto finds that Obama's new "zero-tolerance policy" for his nominees raises more questions than it does answers.

• Obama defends his economic stimulus plan in the Washington Post.

Gail Collins also defends the bill, albeit in a more light-hearted way: "Come on, people. Let's give the stimulus some love. What's not to like? That it's messy? My desk is messy. Everything Congress ever touches is messy."


E. J. Dionne Jr. thinks that Obama's TV interviews Tuesday were to respond to Republicans, who, "short on new ideas, low on votes and deeply unpopular in the polls -- have been winning the media war over the president's central initiative."

• In the Washington Times, columnist Thomas Sowell calls the party-line House vote on the stimulus package a "rare smart move by the Republicans," insisting that if it was passed as a bipartisan bill, Democrats couldn't be blamed.

Daniel Henninger also sees the party-line vote as a good thing for Republicans, calling it the "luckiest thing to happen to the GOP's political fortunes since Ronald Reagan switched parties."

• "The arguments made for and against" Obama's "stimulus plan really aren't that different from the arguments that were made for and against the New Deal some 75 years ago," Harold Meyerson reasons.


John Gapper deems "Obama's decision to impose a salary cap of $500,000... on the senior executives of financial institutions, including Wall Street banks, that need public money to prop themselves up" as "rough justice."

• "In the ensuing debacle, mainstream Americans got blighted neighborhoods with lawns grown weedy, trash piled up and high unemployment," Margaret Carlson laments. "For Mr. Wall Street, it's a $700 billion windfall with few strings attached, time to party on -- literally."

Patt Morrison is fuming over the "dunderheadedness" of "fat cat" bank CEOs and wants to see "groveling," "show-trial sweating" and "stammering" when they testify to the Hill next week.

• Referring back to Obama's campaign pledge to "finish the job" in Afghanistan, Rosa Brooks cautions that what it's going to take to actually accomplish the goal isn't clear anymore.

David Ignatius names two people he thinks could be Obama's emissary to Iran, who "have the stature and experience to engage Iran at the highest level."

• In the effort to get Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program, "the U.S. military option is not an option. It is unthinkable," Roger Cohen underscores.

• "A new American presidency is a useful moment to review policy toward Myanmar, and the truth is that the West's approach has failed," Nicholas D. Kristof declares.

George F. Will has reservations about the D.C. House Voting Rights Act, which would give the district a vote in the House.

From The Editorial Boards...

• The Christian Science Monitor wonders how Americans should distinguish between the withdrawals of Killefer and Daschle and the confirmations of Timothy Geithner and Hillary Rodham Clinton, despite the controversies in their nominations.

• The Washington Post cautions that the House stimulus bill "suffered from a confusion of objectives," and that it shouldn't -- contrary to what Obama has touted -- contain long-term economic strategies.

• "Obama's decision to cap senior executives' pay at bailed-out banks and other companies addresses one of the most outrageous weaknesses of the Bush administration's financial-rescue package," the New York Times maintains.

• Bankers "can't keep partying like it's 2007," USA Today warns, adding that until they "can prove that they grasp what needs to change, no one should be surprised that the White House is redrawing the lines for them."

• "It pays to cool off a second and consider the ramifications of a knee-jerk reaction against 'executive compensation' as if it were an evil unto itself," lawyer Laura Thatcher counters in an opposing view.

• Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times asserts that even though the decision to cap executive pay is more of a "sideshow than a solution," it's nonetheless crucial because Obama must "rescue the TARP's reputation before he can do the same for any more banks."

• Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal tells taxpayers "that Members of Congress want to impose salary and bonus limits to give themselves political cover when they are next asked to provide more bailout cash."

• The Washington Times laments the recent death of Russian journalists in their own country and encourages the U.S. to get involved by reporting the deaths.

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