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Noted and passed

Posted: January 28, 2011 1:52 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2011 5:00 a.m.

• President Obama, despite his love of government spending, is making an attempt to drift toward the political center since his party got battered in last November’s election, a pragmatic approach yet one some doubted the president would be able to do given his philosophy. His latest appeal to the middle came with his naming of General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt as chairman of Obama’s outside panel of economic advisers. Immelt will give the administration an establishment figure that will signal more openness to business. We do, however, hope Immelt will do a better job of advising the president than he has of running GE, whose performance and stock value has been worse than stagnant since Immelt took over a few years ago from the legendary Jack Welch.

• Speaking of the president, Washington is abuzz over rumors that he has begun dying his hair. Recent photos of Obama, compared alongside pictures of a few months ago, show a much darker hair color than before -- closer to the way he appeared when he took office. All that talk is just for fun, but it does indeed highlight the physical toll that the presidency takes on people. It’s dramatic to look at past chief executives upon taking office and then seeing them upon completing their terms; there’s almost always a radical difference. Being the most important and powerful person in the world has its perquisites, but its drawbacks, too.

• Republican leaders in Congress had earlier said they would exempt defense spending from any proposed cuts towards balancing the budget. Now, Rep. Eric Cantor, the House’s new majority leader, is saying nothing is off the table, including defense. While the U.S. is actively engaged in fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, we certainly need to give troops what they need, but we think Cantor’s philosophy that every single dollar spent, no matter the purpose, needs to be scrutinized.

• We’re not enamored of the politics of Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Obama, but the Illinois Supreme Court was right in ruling that he shouldn’t be disqualified from running for mayor of Chicago because of a residency requirement. When Emanuel, a former member of Congress, was chosen as Obama’s top gun, he kept his home in the Windy City, while continuing to pay taxes on it while it was rented. He maintained a Chicago driver’s license. He voted in Illinois. He left Chicago to serve his country. He should be allowed to run for mayor.

• We aren’t naïve enough to believe that Democrats and Republicans sitting together at last week’s State of the Union address will immediately result in more cooperation among the two parties in doing the voters’ business, but it was at least a symbolic step. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, newly elected to Congress to represent South Carolina’s 5th District, which includes Kershaw County, didn’t think much of it, terming it “empty symbolism.” We’ll give him a Scrooge Award for that comment. The bipartisan seating didn’t hurt anything, and we didn’t want to hear anymore about Congress being at loggerheads, especially from a “fresh face” who represents Kershaw County.



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