What they're saying…

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Excerpts of recent editorials from domestic and foreign newspapers:

Aug. 28

Chicago Tribune, on the coming confirmation fight:

When Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court, the expectation in Washington was: bloodbath to follow.

This was the first vacancy in 11 years, and President Bush's first chance to reshape the court according to his preferences.

It was assumed he would pick as a candidate someone who would make liberals blanch. ...

But Bush let the air out of that balloon by choosing a nominee less notable for his ideology than for his distinguished legal credentials and equable manner.

John Roberts served under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, leaving little doubt of his conservative views.

Still, even many liberals were hard-pressed to find fault with someone known as one of the nation's premier Supreme Court advocates, who easily won Senate approval when he was nominated to a federal appeals court.

It's too early to say Roberts deserves confirmation.

The hearings are bound to bring to light information that bears on his suitability for the court. A serious, dignified and open-minded examination of the John Roberts who will emerge from the hearings would be a boon to public understanding, to the reputation of the Senate and to the standing of the Supreme Court.

But that may be asking too much.

Aug. 29

The Indianapolis Star, on Lance Armstrong and doping allegations:

Cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has performed miraculous feats both on and off the bicycle. But it may be beyond the ability of this incredible athlete to disprove a negative -- that he didn't cheat by using a red blood-cell booster in 1999.

Never mind that the charges against him are being made by a French sporting tabloid that has never hidden its dislike of Armstrong.

Or that its evidence of doping is contained in coded tests of six-year-old frozen urine samples by a lab whose testing procedures and chain of custody can't be authenticated. Or that the lab's testing procedures for the banned substance, which sometimes generates false positives, were experimental.

The seeds of doubt have been sown. One of the world's most tested and scrutinized athletes is being judged guilty until proven innocent, although no other test has shown he cheated in any other competition, including six other Tours.

But until far firmer evidence is produced against Armstrong than what the French sports daily L'Equipe is pedaling, we'll continue believing in what millions of fans have seen and celebrated -- a gifted athlete overcoming deadly cancer and torturous mountains to reach the top of his sport.

Aug. 30

The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, on Iraq's draft constitution:

What pessimists most feared has come to pass: Iraq's three major factions -- Shiite, Sunni and Kurd -- have failed to agree on a draft constitution that Sunnis see as stacked against them by Shiites and Kurds.

With no vote by the National Assembly, the document now faces a popular vote on Oct. 15. Sunnis, a 20 percent minority that has ruled Iraq for generations, are a critical factor in creating an Iraqi state. Without a major role, Sunni support for Iraqi insurgents may remain high. And if Sunnis lose as much as they fear, they may seek alliances elsewhere, including in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Sunnis have company in their disenchantment. Secular Iraqis, including many Shiites, are unhappy with language that could give Shiite clerics power to relegate women to a subservient status.

Defenders of the draft, including President Bush, insist that all Iraqis are assured of equal rights, but that may be wishful thinking.