What they're saying

Friday, April 15, 2005

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

April 9

The Des Moines (Iowa) Register, on Pope John Paul II:

At St. Peter's Basilica, millions of people waited hours this week to view the body of Pope John Paul II. Those who couldn't travel to Rome paid their respects where they could ...

The huge gatherings are a fitting end to the life of a man who worked so hard to bring people together.

John Paul II was a uniter. He was the first pope to visit a synagogue. He called Jews the "elder brothers" of Christians. He also was the first pope to visit a mosque. He met with world leaders of all religions and parties and beliefs. He helped establish relations with Israel and bring down the Iron Curtain. He preached a message of peace, social justice and life.

Unlike his predecessors, he was visible. Cameras captured him skiing and hiking and surrounded by crowds of children. He was the first pope to visit Iowa, a 1979 event that drew a crowd of more than 300,000. He brought humanity to a mystical office and continued to make appearances, even as age and illness took their toll. He constantly traveled. He spoke several languages, allowing him to communicate more directly with people from diverse cultures and nationalities.

Throughout his life, he turned out to visit the world. This week, the world turned out for him.

April 10

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash., on provisions of the Patriot Act:

... Past American statesmen ranging from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Robert F. Kennedy have pointed out the temptation to combat deplorable practices by adopting them. It's a warning we've been slow to heed, though, as certain Patriot Act provisions demonstrate, not to mention the embarrassing disclosures at Abu Ghraib ...

Another glaring breakdown of traditional American principles involves "extraordinary rendition," known to its critics as the outsourcing of torture.

The practice dates to the Clinton administration but was widely expanded after Sept. 11, 2001. Under it, the United States turns people suspected of terrorist involvement over to countries who lack America's official scruples about using torture as an interrogation method. ...

Still, administration officials refuse to drop the practice because they contend it protects U.S. troops. ...

The war against terrorism is no justification for a practice like extraordinary rendition. If that's how we fight for liberty and human rights, it may produce a defeat for terrorism, but it won't be a victory for the United States.

April 10

The Sun, Baltimore, on Tom DeLay:

Don't think House Majority Leader Tom DeLay isn't sensitive to criticism. Just a couple of years ago, he abandoned his trademark plastered-down hairstyle for a trendier blow-dried look because, he said, "I got tired of being called a helmet head." He just can't seem to figure out, though, how to put to rest the flurry of ethics allegations now being hurled at him on almost a daily basis. He tried dismantling the House Ethics Committee, changing the subject to Terri Schiavo and launching an offensive against the federal judiciary.

Yet the attacks against him have only intensified. He's fallen back on the familiar tactic of blaming the Democrats and liberal media, but that won't make the spotlight on him go away. ...

DeLay's Republican colleagues are reluctant to criticize him; most are deeply in his debt. He helped get many of them elected, and for years as House Whip tended to many of their personal needs in such housekeeping matters as office space and scheduling.

Yet he has developed the same arrogant, out-of-touch attitude that helped cost the Democrats control of Congress in 1994.

If DeLay doesn't recognize what a liability he's become and step aside before he critically wounds his party, his Republican colleagues should give him a shove.