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Pundits & Editorials

Marcus, Fund and Page predict health care reform's outcome, and the proposed consumer protection agency faces scrutiny.

President Obama's press conference on Tuesday "wasn't so much a news conference as it was a taping of a new daytime drama, 'The Obama Show,'" Dana Milbank quips.

• "Sneaking a smoke now and again is not the worst presidential flaw imaginable," Maureen Dowd argues. "Our president is positively monkish compared with" Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his "Vesuvial vices."


• On, Lawrence Kudlow charges that the "Canadian-European-style nationalization that has always been the true goal of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats" is not what most Americans need or want right now.

• In the Wall Street Journal, Robert Reich, former secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton, argues in favor of a public health care plan.

• "We must include in our final reform package a robust public option linked to an existing federal provider network -- for example, the Medicare network," Reps. Mike Honda, D-Calif., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., assert in Politico.


• "Is this health-care deja vu all over again, the Clinton disaster of 1993-94 revisited?" Ruth Marcus asks. "My money is on the side of a significant legislative accomplishment -- something short of immediate universal coverage but more than cosmetic change."

• "There's a reason the Obama health care plan is being rushed through Congress this summer -- because the American people would likely never support it if given time to absorb and understand such fine print," John Fund maintains.

• "After a summer of more haggling," Clarence Page expects "a final plan to be pushed through a House-Senate conference committee... for a Medicare-like public option or some kind of cost-cutting co-op that offers close to the same thing."

Amy Walter examines the latest polling on health care reform, concluding that "voters want change as long as it means that the bad kind of change won't happen to them."


• The Wall Street Journal chides House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., for "exhorting" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac "to lower lending standards for condo buyers."

• The New York Times urges Congress to pass legislation that includes the administration's plans for a new consumer protection agency.

• The proposed new consumer protection agency "avoids confronting the most frequent offenders while under-regulating a key industry," John F. Wasik counters.

Martin Wolf calls the administration's new financial regulatory proposals a "comprehensive, albeit timid, set of ideas," and he is pessimistic that plans like that will make global financial systems "less crisis-prone."

• "The stress tests came and went, but haven't settled the argument over whether anything short of seizing the biggest banks amounts to recapitulating Japan's experience with zombie banks," Holman Jenkins Jr. remarks.

• "The huge stakes of" the Iranian "struggle and the likelihood that it will persist for weeks or months require a fundamental change in U.S. posture," the Washington Post writes. "To his credit," Obama "began to deliver it" Tuesday.

John Dickerson also thinks Obama exhibited much tougher rhetoric against Iran in his press conference Tuesday.

Thomas L. Friedman contends that the "one thing we could do, without firing a shot, that would truly weaken the Iranian theocrats and force them to unshackle their people" is "end our addiction to the oil that funds Iran's Islamic dictatorship."

John Kass thinks Obama "is doing the right thing with his careful response to the chaos in Iran."

• In Politico, Karen Hughes, former under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs at the State Department, counters that Obama needs to take a "strong, unequivocal stand for human rights and human freedom" in Iran.

Jeff Jacoby maintains that Obama is not advancing democratic ideals in his approach to Iran.

David Ignatius speculates that "a weakened Iran may seek the validation and legitimacy that would come from negotiations with the United States," which would present "a diplomatic dilemma for Obama."

Tim Rutten discusses the effect of new media in Iran: "Tyranny's irreducible dilemma is that the Web is, in its chaotic essence, the product of an open society. You can't have its benefits without accepting the democratic baggage."

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