Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
1:10 PM ET, 05/21/2009

Alicia Mundy and Brent Kendall write in the Wall Street Journal: "In a sweeping order Wednesday, President Barack Obama called for a rollback of Bush administration regulations designed to protect companies from product-liability lawsuits in state courts. The memo didn't name specific industries but it could affect a wide range of consumer products subject to both federal and state regulation. Companies have long complained about having to deal with 50 different state rulebooks, and the Bush administration aggressively took up the issue. It encouraged federal agencies to issue rules pre-empting state laws and declared that a single federal standard held sway."

Robert Barnes and Shailagh Murray write in The Washington Post: "President Obama is intensifying his search for a Supreme Court nominee and has interviewed Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, believed to be among a handful of top contenders."

Carl Hulse writes in the New York Times: "Congress on Wednesday sent President Obama a set of new rules governing credit card companies, completing a trio of consumer-related measures that Democrats had raced to get signed into law by Memorial Day. But the credit card victory came at a cost that angered some backers of the legislation: approval of an unrelated provision allowing visitors to national parks and wildlife refuges to carry loaded weapons if they are otherwise licensed to possess guns."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reports "that the Obama administration is opposing our request that the Supreme Court reconsider the dismissal of the lawsuit, Wilson v. Libby, et al. In that case, the district court had dismissed the claims of Joe and Valerie Wilson against former Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and Richard Armitage for their gross violations of the Wilsons' constitutional rights. Agreeing with the Bush administration, the Obama Justice Department argues the Wilsons have no legitimate grounds to sue." "The government's position cannot be reconciled with President Obama's oft-stated commitment to once again make government officials accountable for their actions," says Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director.

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Scherer write in a Time Magazine cover story on Michelle Obama: "Few First Ladies have embedded themselves so quickly in the world's imagination. And none have traveled so far, not just from Chicago's South Side to the East Wing, but from the caricatured Angry Black Woman of last spring to her exalted status as a New American Icon, as if her arrival will magically reverse eight years of anti-American spitballing, elevate the black middle class, promote family values, give voice to the voiceless and inspire us all to live healthier, more generous lives."

Katharine Q. Seelye writes in the New York Times: "Barack Obama has been president only four months, but already his name is cropping up on schools, other buildings and avenues across the country...Proponents of the idea say Mr. Obama has been an inspiration, especially for students — that becoming president is an achievement in itself and that becoming the first black president is a historic achievement, worthy of special honor...Skeptics call the move premature, since no one can know how Mr. Obama's presidency will turn out."

Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent gets hold of former vice president Dick Cheney's final financial disclosure statement and finds a wealthy man. Among the gifts Cheney received during his last year in office: "Former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady gifted him a Remington 12-gauge automatic shotgun worth $999."

Washington Post opinion columnist David S. Broder applauds Obama for heeding the advice of his uniformed and civilian defense leaders and abandoning positions he had taken as the Democratic presidential candidate. "Obama's liberal critics are right. He is a different man now. He has learned what it means to be commander in chief."

Former senator Bob Graham writes in a Washington Post op-ed about the "reform urgently needed in the relationship between the intelligence community, the executive branch and Congress." He particularly recommends some new rules for briefings on covert action.

The USA Today editorial board writes: "After CIA abuses were revealed in the 1970s, the modern oversight process was created to provide some public check on a system that, by its nature, must be secret. The intelligence committees would be briefed by the CIA. They'd set limits on the agency, guarantee secrecy and once they'd approved something, they'd back the agency even when the political winds changed....Oversight in recent years has been almost the opposite of that vision." Instead, "The Bush administration arbitrarily restricted its briefings" and "Democrats acted like a bunch of potted plants."

Nader Mousavizadeh writes in a Washington Post op-ed that Obama is on the path to war in Iran: "While the Obama administration appears likely to resist the near-term pressure for military action (not least because of its preoccupation with the creeping Talibanization of Pakistan, Iran's already nuclear-armed neighbor to the east), its mix of rhetorical innovation and policy continuation is unlikely to produce a different outcome....Our goal should be a new geostrategic environment in the Persian Gulf, in which Iran has fewer reasons to pursue overt nuclear weapons status, and in which it won't trigger a cascade of conflict if it nonetheless decides to do so...This means opening direct bilateral talks without preconditions, focused on the many areas of common urgent concern, beginning with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. By building trust through joint efforts in arenas where Iranian and U.S. interests greatly coincide, we can move toward candid acknowledgment of each side's legitimate interests."

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