- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2009



The following are excerpts from editorials that ran in other newspapers:

Chicago Tribune, on Khe Sanh and President Obama’s inaugural speech: In his inaugural address … President Barack Obama summoned the memories of epic American fights for freedom, reciting battle sites that every school child knows: Concord. Gettysburg. Normandy. But he added one that has not ranked among those famous battles of the American Revolution, the Civil War and World War II.

“For us,” he said, “they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sanh.”

The siege of Khe Sanh, in the first months of 1968, was one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. It lasted 77 days and claimed about 200 American lives, according to official U.S. figures. Some accounts put the death toll much higher. The siege, and the Tet Offensive that started around the same time, helped turn American public opinion against the war.

Obama’s reference to Khe Sanh was brief, but it was probably noticed by millions of Americans - some who fought in the war, some who protested against the war, and some who just remember that agonizing time in American history.

In listing Khe Sanh with three epic battles for American freedom, Obama as much as said: We’re past one generation’s long political divide over Vietnam. What we remember, what we honor, is the sacrifice of more than 58,000 American soldiers who died and tens of thousands who were wounded.

That was a nice touch in a fine speech summoning Americans to find courage for the days – and battles – ahead. …

On the Net:


Los Angeles Times, on Obama’s TV interview with Al Arabiya: President Obama is not going to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, crush the Taliban, end Iran’s nuclear intransigence, get Syria to stop interfering in Lebanon or end the fighting in Iraq overnight - or next week, or possibly ever. Yet his interview … with the Al Arabiya satellite channel laid a foundation for better U.S. relations with the Arab world than we’ve had in many years.

Obama’s savvy diplomacy started before he even opened his mouth, with his selection of Al Arabiya to air the first official television interview he has granted since taking office. Not only did this signal a new level of involvement in Middle Eastern affairs, but it gave a boost to a Saudi-owned news channel founded in 2003 to present a more balanced view of regional conflicts than was being produced by the more Islamist-leaning Al-Jazeera network. …

Obama offered few clues about specific changes in policy, but the interview presented a striking change in tone from the belligerence and neglect of the Bush administration to respectfulness and engagement. …

Obama’s efforts to negotiate with hostile regimes are sure to rile many in this country, and not just the wingnut crowd that thinks the president’s middle name proves he’s a secret Muslim. They fail to see that diplomacy is not the same as surrender, that disputes are unlikely to end if opponents don’t talk to one another, and that sanctions alone have been ineffective in changing the behavior of leaders in Iran and Gaza. A new approach couldn’t be more welcome.

On the Net:


The Dallas Morning News, on President Obama’s proposed stimulus package: Judging by the size of President Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus package, we know that he can say “yes.”

Now we hope he also knows the word “no.”

The $825 billion package - slightly different versions of which are moving through the House and Senate - is built with both muscle and fat. The strong parts are those initiatives most likely to spark critical job growth and provide emergency economic aid: individual and business tax relief, aid for state Medicaid programs and unemployment benefits.

But the package also carries too much fat. Green energy initiatives, construction money for schools and job-creating provisions such as weatherizing buildings and building highways may be good ideas, but they don’t belong in this particular legislation. And these are the items that have inflated the package to historic levels.

The standard for the stimulus plan should be that every dollar is targeted toward initiatives that Americans can touch and feel now. If Congress is going to send the deficit rocketing toward $2 trillion and potentially mortgage future generations, the payoff must come in ideas that have the best chance to lift the economy from recession.

The president would be wise to direct congressional leaders to remove the dubious infrastructure provisions and concentrate more on tax cuts. Right now, there is twice as much for government spending in the measure as there are tax cuts, a troubling imbalance. …

On the Net:


The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va., on American companies: … Because, so far, our financial malaise hasn’t spread as deeply abroad, bargain-minded multinationals are on a spending spree in the United States.

In a deal announced last week, the Italian carmaker Fiat will soon control more than a third of Chrysler, which has been teetering. Now that Fiat’s cars are considered some of the finest in the world, the company wants back into the market it left in disgrace more than a quarter-century ago.

Also last week, The New York Times announced that Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim had taken a $250 million stake in that American newspaper. In exchange, the tycoon would become its largest shareholder.

Those aren’t isolated incidents. The Associated Press put it this way: “Slim is part of a crop of emerging-market billionaires, from Mexico to Russia, who are on a shopping spree now that the recession has slashed the prices of some of America’s best-known companies.” …

All this activity will sound familiar to many Americans, an echo of the time when Japan’s go-go economy spawned huge U.S. investment, or when oil profits inspired OPEC members to buy real estate all over America.

With new money so scarce right now, stumbling U.S. companies have few alternatives but to look abroad, both for investment and for confidence.

On the Net:


Mobile (Ala.) Register, on President Barack Obama and terrorism: Barack Obama took the first unpopular action of his presidency … setting a one-year deadline for the closing of the Guantanamo detention camp for captured terrorists.

He also took a hesitant step into the swamp of legal ambiguity surrounding the status of the enemy combatants held at the U.S. military base in Cuba. The new president is likely to discover soon, if he hasn’t already, that there is no clear legal, political and military blueprint for dealing with some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists. …

As expected, Obama ordered an end to coercive interrogation of captured terrorists and closed CIA facilities abroad where al-Qaida leaders such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the 9/11 attacks, were temporarily detained and questioned by intelligence operatives.

Information provided by Mohammed helped avert terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe. We hope Obama has pondered whether his moralistic concern about alleged “torture” will cost American lives. If more attacks do occur, he may be contemplating a one-term presidency.

In his inaugural address, Obama pledged in no uncertain terms that he would fight the war against the terrorists until they are defeated. We take him at his word, but wonder if he will find that he will need many – if not all – of the weapons President Bush used to put the terrorists on the defensive and keep America safe for seven years.

On the Net:


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