washingtonpost.com
Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:25 PM ET, 05/20/2009

John M. Broder and Micheline Maynard write in the New York Times: "Why, after decades of battling, complaining and maneuvering over fuel economy standards, did carmakers fall in line behind the tough new nationwide mileage standard President Obama announced Tuesday? Because they had no choice. The auto industry is flat on its back...Simply put, Detroit and the other companies need Washington's help, and they are powerless to block the rules Washington dictates."

Jim Tankersley writes in the Los Angeles Times: "What made the agreement possible was a combination of unyielding demands by the federal government on some points and a willingness to make major concessions on what it considered smaller ones, said officials involved who requested anonymity when discussing the negotiations. With the U.S. auto industry on the brink of collapse, its leaders came to see that they could no longer forestall action -- and would be better off with a single, strict national rule than a state-by-state patchwork."

Joe Palazzolo and Amanda Bronstad write in the National Law Journal: "President Barack Obama began filling the nation's 93 U.S. Attorney positions on May 15, announcing his first wave of six nominees. The move touched off a closely guarded process freighted with symbolism in the wake of the Bush administration firings scandal....Obama is announcing his picks for U.S. Attorneys in waves, replacing holdover Bush prosecutors once his nominees are confirmed or appointed on an interim basis....But Obama's piecemeal approach means some of the most controversial Bush-era prosecutors... will likely remain in place until their successor is confirmed."

Carl Hulse writes in the New York Times: "To the frustration and discouragement of many Democrats, House and Senate lawmakers and aides say it now appears likely that President Obama will this week sign into law a provision allowing visitors to national parks and refuges to carry loaded and concealed weapons."

Zachary A. Goldfarb, Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho write in The Washington Post: "The Obama administration is actively discussing the creation of a regulatory commission that would have broad authority to protect consumers who use financial products as varied as mortgages, credit cards and mutual funds, according to several sources familiar with the matter....The leading proponent of such a commission is Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard University law professor who now chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel for the government's financial rescue initiative....In March, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced legislation to create a commission like the one that Warren had described."

Paul West writes in the Los Angeles Times: "National Republican Committee Chairman Michael Steele, in an effort to move beyond the woes of his party and his own gaffes, declared Tuesday that Republicans had turned a corner and were ready to step up their attacks on President Obama." From Steele's speech: "The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over. It is done. The time for trying to fix or focus on the past has ended. The era of Republican naval gazing, done....The honeymoon is over. We're going to challenge those policies that we believe are wrong, and we're going to do so without apology and without a second thought."

Del Quentin Wilber writes in The Washington Post: "A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the White House does not have to make public internal documents examining the potential disappearance of e-mails during the administration of President George W. Bush." But this was a narrow ruling, upholding a 2008 decision by a federal judge that the White House's Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act -- and it has no direct impact on the continuing efforts by watchdog groups to make sure missing Bush era e-mails are recovered.

Spencer S. Hsu writes in The Washington Post: "Although President Obama has spent much of his time in office moving away from the policies of his predecessor, on immigration enforcement, he has embraced several Bush administration initiatives, and the changes he has promised to make are couched in nuance....At a news conference April 29, Obama said a stay-the-course strategy on aggressive border enforcement is needed to build public support for his pledge to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and deal with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States."

Carol J. Williams writes in the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama's campaign vow to end the ban on gays in the military -- and the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that forces thousands of military personnel to stay in the closet -- appears to be driven now by a strategy of 'don't rush.'"

Fredreka Schouten writes in USA Today: "More than one in four members of President George W. Bush's Cabinet have landed jobs with consulting or lobbying firms in which they can help clients navigate the departments they once oversaw, a USA Today analysis shows.... In all, 10 of the 34 former Cabinet secretaries who served during Bush's eight years in office have registered as lobbyists or joined consulting or lobbying firms, the analysis shows. Others sit on the boards or work for industries they regulated. For instance, Gale Norton, who once oversaw 500 million acres of public land as Interior secretary, now is a lawyer in a Shell Oil division for oil exploration."

Claudia Feldman writes for the Houston Chronicle about her interview with former Bush confidante Karen Hughes: "She acknowledged the current uproar over interrogation tactics and allegations of prisoner torture during the Bush years. 'I was very vocal in the internal debate,' she said. 'I worried about how that would make us look in the eyes of the world. But I had left the White House when a lot of that was taking place.' Then she paused, worried for the first time in 90 minutes that she'd made a gaffe." Hughes left her White House job as counselor to the president in early July 2002. According to a recently declassified Justice Department timeline, the White House's official approval of waterboarding and other techniques that constitute torture for use by the CIA came on July 17.

Michael Fletcher writes for The Washington Post: "President Obama held an Oval Office meeting today with four of the nation's foreign policy wise men, who endorsed his administration's vision for a world free of nuclear weapons....'I don't think anybody would accuse these four gentlemen of being dreamers,' Obama told reporters after the meeting with the bipartisan group." The group included former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz, former Defense Secretary William Perry and former Sen. Sam Nunn.

Timothy Rutten writes in his Los Angeles Times opinion column about Obama's Sunday commencement address: "Even in Washington's charged partisan atmosphere, it will be hard to ignore the president's call for civility at Notre Dame....John Kenneth Galbraith once remarked that the one thing all the great leaders of his lifetime had in common was their willingness to speak directly to the great popular anxieties of their era. Obama's rhetorical success as a leader derives not simply from his measured eloquence but from his willingness to do precisely that."

Ben Smith writes for Politico that Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer "has emerged in the Age of Obama as a central conservative voice, the kind of leader of the opposition that that economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman represented for the left during the Bush years: A coherent, sophisticated, and implacable critic of the new president." Smith notes, without any obvious irony, that the "key to Krauthammer's appeal is the clarity of his opposition to Obama, which began soon after a December, 2006, column during which he urged Obama to run for president, and guaranteed that he would lose."

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