- Nancy Pelosi on the Next Session of Congress The outgoing House Speaker takes to the opinion page of USA Today to tout the accomplishments of one of the "most productive" sessions of Congress in a half-century. She argues that Congress extended credit to small business owners, passed Wall Street reform to curb "recklessness," made the largest investment in student aid in history, and restored "fiscal discipline" to Congress by "making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land." Pelosi cautions the new House majority, saying that Americans did not vote for special interests, they voted for jobs. In conclusion, she signals a desire for bipartisanship while also rededicating herself to fight "every day for jobs, economic recovery and the middle class."
- Howard Kurtz on Dueling Presidential Personas The recent TV blitz by Barack Obama (answering questions about his midterm 'shellacking' on 60 Minutes) and George W. Bush (promoting his memoirs during an interview with Matt Lauer) offered a glimpse into the strengths and weaknesses of their respective White Houses, says The Daily Beast media columnist. "Bush, with his short, declarative sentences, so sure of himself he felt no need to probe further on one of the most divisive ethical issues of his tenure. Obama, with his finely rendered prose, meandering around as he inspects the subject from various angles, almost like a think-tank analyst." Comparing the interviews against each other, Kurtz writes, was like watching "The Decider vs. The Agonizer. The man who approved torture and the man who tortures himself." The flaws in Bush's approach have been widely commented upon, but in a sense, they are over. The Agonizer is the man currently in power, and Kurtz suggests his inability to consistently and clearly communicate strength is hurting his administration. "We measure presidents by their words and demeanor. Obama is capable of great eloquence, but lately he has been, well, flat."
- John C. Goodman on How to Stifle Obamacare If House Republicans try to repeal Obama's health-care-reform plan, it will surely be vetoed by the president, and that may not be such a bad thing, argues The National Review contributor. Since most of the "bad features" of the law don't kick in until 2014, the GOP can use the issue to win yet another election in 2012. The numbers are there: "Let's generously estimate the entire group of [Obamacare] beneficiaries at about 50 million people," writes Goodman. "That leaves about 250 million who are on the other side--expecting to lose more than they gain." Ideally, in the future Republicans and Democrats would reform health care in a way that's good for both doctors and patients. For now, Republicans should focus on repealing individual mandates, employer fines, and regulations that might cause a large company to drop coverage for its low-wage employees.
- Thomas Friedman on Containment-lite As Obama visits the region, many Asian nations are taking the occasion to signal to China 'stay out': "Don't even think about using your growing economic and military clout" to bully your neighbors. That's why "each one of China's neighbors is eager to have a picture of their president standing with Secretary Clinton or President Obama," figures The New York Times columnist. They know the can turn to U.S. aid if China begins to muscle them around. Still, China is India's largest trading partner and "the Indians, like their fellow Asians, really do not want to go beyond containment-lite with China--for now." Friedman concludes: "But if China doesn't play it smart, Obama to India could one day become the new Nixon to China: my enemy's enemy is my new best friend."
- Zalmay Khalilzad on Fighting Iran In Iraq Writing in The Wall Street Journal, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Nations says the United States must remain involved and engaged with Iraq's political leaders in the years going forward, if only to make sure Iran is not able to influence the country's direction. "Seven months after Iraq's inconclusive election," notes Khalilzad, "Tehran has emerged as the key power broker in the country, expanding its regional influence by fostering sectarianism and a government dominated by it." The U.S., he suggests, must reengage diplomatically in Iraq and help orchestrate "genuine power-sharing" between Ayad Allawi and Nouri al-Maliki (both of whom claim victory in the race to be prime minister), with an eye towards preventing Iran from exploiting sectarian divides in the country.
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