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Pundits & Editorials

The State of the Union could start a fight for principles or a move toward the center, but few agree on which strategy should prevail. Plus: Are new economic initiatives too small to matter?

• "Obama's Oneness has been one-upped" by Scott Brown, asserts Maureen Dowd. "The New One is the shimmering vessel that we are pouring all our hopes and dreams into after the grave disappointment of the Last One."

• "Last year, the new president proposed big solutions to big problems," but now Harold Meyerson is disappointed that, "as many of those solutions languish, he's come up with some proposals reminiscent of the cosmetics of Clintonism."


• "Instead of knifing your allies, try fighting for the principles of your party," Thomas Frank advises Obama. "It's true, that's not what Mr. Clinton did. But it's what Franklin Roosevelt did, and Harry Truman, and John Kennedy -- and it worked for them. In those days, 'working-class revolts' helped Democrats, not Republicans."

• Writing in the Los Angeles Times, James A. Morone, chair of political science at Brown University, remembers when Truman "passionately embraced the policies he cared about, especially national health insurance. Fifteen times a day on his long, famous whistle-stop tour he would rise and scorch the medical lobbies and their congressional pals. Truman, of course, won that election. He never came close on healthcare reform, but he kept on fighting."

• "Not to leap to conclusions, but it would seem that Obama intends to fight," observes Kathleen Parker. "Like The Narrator in 'Fight Club,' he has tired of hugging victims and wants to punch the daylights out of . . . somebody. But didn't Obama run on just the opposite?"


• "Obama did overinterpret his mandate," writes Michael Gerson. "Yet the main problem with his agenda was not its boldness but its utter predictability. In every early crucial domestic decision, Obama embraced, or deferred to, a conventional, unreconstructed congressional liberalism."

Monica Crowley actually writes a speech for Obama as his job approval numbers fall, promising "this one could begin to turn it around."

Thomas L. Friedman worries that "our economy is still very fragile, yet you would never know that by the way the political class is acting. We're like a patient that just got out of intensive care and is sitting up in bed for the first time when, suddenly, all the doctors and nurses at bedside start bickering."

• "The problem with" the economic initiatives announced by the Obama administration this week "is that even if they work as planned, Americans need much more," contends the New York Times.


• "Small gestures are better than no gestures when it comes to fiscal discipline, and the administration approach has some positive aspects," counters the Washington Post.

• Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., outlines his budget plan, which he claims "focuses the government on its proper role. It restrains government spending, and hence limits the size of government itself."

• The New York Times compares a French parliamentary panel to the Taliban after it recommended "barring women who wear ... the burqa and the niqab ... from using public services, including schools, hospitals and public transportation."

• "The Federal Reserve is a very powerful agency, and the truth of the matter is that" Ben Bernanke "has abused that power," argues the Washington Times. "The Fed chairman should not be reconfirmed for another term."

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