What they're saying

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

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

Nov. 27

The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, on stem cells:

... The good news is that two groups of scientists have found a means of turning normal human skin cells into the medicinal gold mine of stem cells, and they did so apparently following the 14th century philosopher William of Occam's rule of the simplest path being the best.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that the new method will finally prove to be as effective as the more elaborate embryo manipulation method that has been getting all the attention, not all of it positive. ...

What we don't yet know is whether the scientists have, by removing the touchy questions of cloning and embryos from the equation, wrestled this matter back into their realm, away from the politicians, the pundits and the push polls.

If they have, wonderful. If they haven't, then stem cell research will remain a difficult question that politicians shouldn't be allowed to duck.

Nov. 27

Los Angeles Times, on Sen. Trent Lott's retirement:

Trent Lott is finally cashing in his chips. Or is he planning to cash in on his chits? The Mississippi Republican stunned Washington on Monday by announcing his retirement from the Senate before the end of this year -- with five years remaining in his term. ...

So why the sudden change of heart? ... Lott didn't say. But politicos were quick to note that by quitting now, he avoids new "revolving-door" ethics rules that will prevent lawmakers from lobbying for two years after leaving office.

... It's true that the (ethics) law will ban lawmakers-turned-lobbyists from personal contacts -- letters, telephone calls and meetings -- for two years after leaving office. But nothing prevents them from sitting in a conference room and telling subordinates exactly how to play their former colleagues. True, lobbyists won't be allowed to buy congressmen so much as a $25 lunch. But that's a surmountable problem when they are allowed to bundle millions of dollars in contributions to the lawmakers' re-election campaigns. Lott is a prodigious fundraiser. So we wish him a peaceful retirement -- and we hope he will ply his notable talents in the purely private sector.

Nov. 24

Journal Star, Peoria, Ill., on remembering Mr. Whipple:

For those of a certain generation, Dick Wilson was an icon, one of the most recognizable faces in all of America. (A 1978 poll put him behind only former President Richard Nixon and televangelist Billy Graham.)

He sold toilet paper.

Lots of it. ...

Wilson, who portrayed Mr. Whipple for Procter & Gamble from 1964 to 1985 -- plus an encore in 1999 -- passed away this week in California. He was 91. You could say he lived a full and cushy life.

Oh, we're not making light of Wilson's passing, just paying homage to someone whose like we may never see again. Indeed, Mr. Whipple, a closet squeezer himself -- irresistible even to the scold, that was the whole selling point -- was not only synonymous with his product, but Americans actually knew what that product was. That's quite unlike many of today's ads. Even if they are memorable, even if they are funny, often you're not entirely certain what product is being pitched, our apologies to GEICO's cavemen. (GEICO is a car insurance company. Of course.) ...

Suffice it to say, Wilson took something and coaxed it to its fullest potential. How many of us can say that? And he is revered among Baby Boomers, as he was part of the fabric of their childhoods. May he rest in peace, on a cloud as soft as a 12-pack of Charmin tissue.

Nov. 27

Jerusalem Post, on the Mideast Summit:

... President Bush gave three reasons why, contrary to the naysayers, now is "precisely" the time to pursue peace. "First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace," he said. "Second ... because the battle is under way for the future of the Middle East, and we must not cede victory to the extremists." Lastly, he argued, "the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, interestingly, echoed this sense of urgency. ...

Bush and Abbas are right that certain conditions exist that must not be squandered. In the same breath, however, they allude to the elephant in the room, which is that forces actively seeking to torpedo peace are much stronger than they were in 1993.

Back then, Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, and al-Qaida almost did not exist as factors in the international equation. In particular, Iran was not on the cusp of achieving nuclear weapons capability, an advent that would allow the world's premier terrorist regime to ramp up its international aggression with impunity. ...

Today, Bush and (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert are to meet precisely on this topic. It will be the most important meeting of this diplomatic mission, even if it is not officially part of the Annapolis conference.

At this meeting, Bush needs to hear from Olmert that Israel cannot accept a nuclear Iran, while Olmert needs to hear from Bush that neither can the U.S. and, no less importantly, how Iran will be stopped. The extremists who cast a shadow over Annapolis and who impelled it, cannot be defeated otherwise.