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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
3:10 PM ET, 05/18/2009

Frank Rich writes in his New York Times opinion column: "No matter how hard President Obama tries to turn the page on the previous administration, he can't. Until there is true transparency and true accountability, revelations of that unresolved eight-year nightmare will keep raining down drip by drip, disrupting the new administration's high ambitions."

The Los Angeles Times editorial board writes: "Republicans are exulting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's increasingly defensive explanations about when she knew about torture by CIA interrogators. But you don't have to be a partisan to recognize that the possible acquiescence of Democrats in waterboarding and other cruelties is worthy of further investigation."

David E. Sanger writes in the New York Times: "A series of cover sheets for intelligence reports written for Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials during the early days of the war in Iraq in 2003 were adorned with biblical quotations, and appeared Sunday, six years later, on the Web site of GQ magazine."

The rest of Robert Draper's GQ article basically consists of other former Bush officials throwing Rumsfeld under the train -- as if he could be blamed for everything that went wrong. "My conversations with more than a dozen Bush loyalists," Draper writes, revealed that a key element of their legacy-building is their "ill will toward Donald Rumsfeld. Though few of these individuals would speak for the record (knowing that their former boss, George W. Bush, would not approve of it), they believe that Rumsfeld's actions epitomized the very traits — arrogance, stubbornness, obliviousness, ineptitude — that critics say drove the Bush presidency off the rails."

Looking for Bush's biggest legacy? Jeffrey Toobin writes in the New Yorker that after four years on the court, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's record is "that of a doctrinaire conservative...[Roberts] reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation's seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff....At this low moment in the historical reputation of George W. Bush, his nominee for Chief Justice stands in signal contrast to what appears today to be a failed and fading tenure as President. Roberts's service on the Court, which is, of course, likely to continue for decades, offers an enduring and faithful reflection of the Bush Presidency."

Pete Yost writes for the Associated Press: "A federal prosecutor questioned former top presidential aide Karl Rove for several hours on Friday, trying to determine his precise role in the Bush administration's politically tinged firings of U.S. attorneys....Rove and the prosecutor who interviewed him, acting U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy, declined to comment as they left the offices of Rove's lawyer separately."

Peter Baker writes in the New York Times: "Ready for a new New Deal? How about the New Foundation? As Mr. Obama labors to pull the country out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression and simultaneously overhaul energy, education and health care, he has coined an expression to encapsulate his ambitious program in the same way Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the 1930s."

Michael D. Shear writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama reached across the aisle [Saturday] to tap a leading Republican governor as his ambassador to China, indicating his continuing desire for bipartisanship in his administration while signaling to Beijing his intent to build 'a new understanding' with the United States' largest economic competitor." Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. had been seen as a potential political challenger for Obama in 2012.

Robert Pear writes in the New York Times: "Hospitals and insurance companies said Thursday that President Obama had substantially overstated their promise earlier this week to reduce the growth of health spending. Mr. Obama invited health industry leaders to the White House on Monday to trumpet their cost-control commitments. But three days later, confusion swirled in Washington as the companies' trade associations raced to tamp down angst among members around the country."

Sally Quinn writes in a Washington Post op-ed that National Security Adviser Jim Jones is the subject of "sniping...reportedly coming mostly from State Department officials and some staffers at the White House."

Robert J. Samuelson grumbles in his Washington Post opinion column about "Obama's Zen-like capacity to discourage serious criticism." Samuelson calls Obama's budget "a case study in political expediency and economic gambling."

Jeff Zeleny profiles Rotus -- Darienne M. Page, Obama's receptionist -- in the New York Times.

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