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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:55 PM ET, 06/10/2009

David Cho writes for The Washington Post: "The Obama administration is set to announce two proposals today that would empower shareholders and the Securities and Exchange Commission to have more oversight over executive compensation at all publicly traded firms, government sources said."

Cho, Binyamin Appelbaum and Zachary A. Goldfarb wrote earlier in The Post: "The Obama administration is pulling back from some of its most ambitious ideas for overhauling the financial system, after determining that the consolidation of power under fewer federal agencies would face grave opposition by lawmakers and regulators, sources familiar with the discussions said....What remains, however, would still be the most sweeping overhaul of financial regulation since the Great Depression."

Michael Muskal writes in the Los Angeles Times: "The Senate Judiciary Committee is to begin hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court on July 13, a victory for the White House, which has been pushing for early consideration of President Obama's nominee. The hearings would come soon enough to probably allow the full Senate to consider the nomination before the summer recess in August....Republicans had suggested delaying hearings until September to allow time to study Sotomayor's record."

Carrie Budoff Brown writes for Politico: "From the White House garden to his picks for top health jobs, Obama is telling America's McDonald's-loving, couch-dwelling, doctor-phobic populace that things are about to change. Don't be fooled by the presidential burger runs. Obama and Congress are moving across several fronts to give government a central role in making America healthier — raising expectations among public health experts of a new era of activism unlike any before." She notes, however: "To some, it smacks of a 'nanny state on steroids'."

Carol E. Lee writes for Politico: "During President Obama's visit to Riyadh last week, the Saudi government lavished such opulent gifts on the traveling White House staff that aides had to turn their presents over to the State Department. Roughly a dozen White House staffers traveling with the U.S. delegation each received an alligator-skin briefcase from the Saudi royal family, according to sources involved. Inside, they found an array of expensive jewels, including rings, necklaces, gemstones and watches."

Talking Points Memo puts together a photo gallery of all the president's czars.

Marc Ambinder blogs for the Atlantic on the six top conservatives Obama listens to.

Thomas L. Friedman writes in his New York Times opinion column that the election in Lebanon "was the real deal, and the results were fascinating: President Barack Obama defeated President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran."

Washington Post opinion columnist Michael Gerson praises Obama for the "intensity and clarity" of his rejection of Holocaust denial -- but sees it as a rare exception to a "rhetorical universe of mist and fog, divided between gray and deeper gray" in which Obama is apparently willing to split the difference not just between Islam and the West, or the Palestinians and Israel, but also Iran and America. Gerson mocks Newsweek's Evan Thomas for an unfortunately phrased simile, in which he likened Obama's endeavor to bring different sides together to God's -- although God doesn't strike me as a terrible role model in that context. And in his big finish, Gerson accuses Obama of appeasing "some" who "don't merely wish to deny the Holocaust but to finish it."

New York Times opinion columnist Maureen Dowd lashes out at the "fun police" who are savaging Obama for his brief leisurely diversions: "As a taxpayer, I am most happy to contribute to domestic and international date nights. As Arthur Schlesinger noted in his diaries, the White House tends to drive its occupants nuts. So some respite from the pressure is clearly a healthy thing. Not as much respite as W. took, bicycling and vacationing through all the disasters that President Obama is now stuck fixing — spending a total of 490 days in the tumbleweed isolation of Crawford and rarely deigning to sightsee as he traveled the world." She adds: "What a relief to have an urbane, cultivated, curious president who's out and about, engaged in the world. Not dangerously detached, as W. was, or darkly stewing like Cheney."

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