• Ruth Marcus on Wal-Mart Moms and President Obama  The Washington Post columnist spent an evening last week observing Wal-Mart shoppers via video hookup. Based on the comments of the focus groups (all female, all from swing states, all moderates), Marcus thinks middle America supports President Obama more than one might think. Or rather, middle America empathizes with President Obama more than one might think. Even though the majority of participants were "pessimistic, bordering on despondent, about the state of the country," Marcus notes "they were surprisingly understanding about the president's plight. Even those who did not vote for Barack Obama shied away from blaming him...if anything, they said they felt sorry for him."  For a president who spent much of the summer absorbing political body blows that bordered on the hysterical, it should be encouraging to hear criticism "tinged with realism about the political and economic constraints [Obama] faces." When it came to Congress, however, the women were less sympathetic.
  • David Ignatius on Looming Terrorism Fears  In striving not to appear alarmist regarding the possibility of a terrorist threat, the Obama administration is actually doing the American people a disservice, argues the Washington Post columnist. "Terrorism," writes Ignatius, "is a fact of life in the modern world." In this spirit, the French, British and German authorities all issued "sharp warnings" earlier this month about an increased terrorist threat. The United States did not. Ignatius understands the reasoning, but thinks it is fundamentally flawed. "Americans shouldn't obsess constantly about terrorist threats. It's bad for our national psyche," he concedes. And yet "by the same token, if terrorism becomes an unmentionable subject--with officials across the government clamming up--then we're living in another sort of artificial world."

  • Christina Hoff Sommers on the Unnecessary 'Paycheck-Fairness' Bill  Winding its way through Congress now, the "paycheck fairness" bill would make it easier for women "to file class-action, punitive-damages suits against employers they accuse of sex-based pay discrimination." But the bill isn't as "commonsensical" as it may seem, argues the American Enterprise Institute scholar in The New York Times. "It overlooks mountains of research showing that discrimination plays little role in pay disparities between men and women." The wage gap, which shows women making 77 cents for every dollar that men make, may have more to do with "differences in education, experience and job tenure." Instead of acknowledging these factors, the bill "assumes" discrimination is the answer, creating a "a legal nightmare for even the best-intentioned employers."

  • Nile Gardiner on the Tea Party's 'Pro-British' Leanings   The Telegraph columnist, who previously wrote that Obama was the most anti-British president since 1956, now contends that the Tea Party may offer the best hope to preserving the special relationship between the U.S. and Britain. This may seem an "odd" assessment, but Gardiner points out that the Tea Party cherishes the idea of American exceptionalism, distrusts multinational institutions like the UN and the EU, and recognizes Britain as "America's most important ally." It doesn't hurt that influential Tea Partiers and their backers (Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Jim DeMint) call out when the Obama administration gives "shoddy" treatment to Britain and "understand the great sacrifices that the US and UK have made in the defence of liberty and freedom across the world."

  • Bruce Ackerman on Elizabeth Warren and the Imperial Presidency  President Obama's end-around appointment of Elizabeth Warren as a "special adviser" to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection represents a worrisome trend in American politics, contends the Yale Law professor in a Wall Street Journal guest editorial. A president appointing a special White House adviser without Senate confirmation would have been "unthinkable" even 70 years ago. Going around Congress--even a glacial, fiercely partisan Congress--represents Obama's "contribution to the ongoing construction of an imperial presidency." Ackerman proposes a "grand bargain" between the White House and the Senate to clear nomination gridlock. Both sides would be forced to cede "the petty privileges of the existing system." Under Ackerman's plan, the Senate would be required "up-or-down vote on all executive branch appointments within 60 days. In exchange, the president should sign legislation to require Senate approval of all senior White House appointments."