Today's Blogs

Picking Apart Paulson

Bloggers debate whether Henry Paulson’s nomination to replace John Snow as treasury secretary signals the end of the department’s marginalization—and a shift in the Bush administration’s monetary policy. They also critique Pope Benedict’s speech at Auschwitz and examine the ethical implications of Sen. Harry Reid’s free boxing tickets.

Picking apart Paulson: President Bush on Tuesday announced the resignation of Treasury Secretary John Snow and his choice for a replacement, Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry Paulson. Snow’s departure had been long rumored.

Liberal U.C. Berkeley economics professor Brad DeLong, writing at his eponymous Semi-Daily Journal, wonders whether Paulson’s appointment marks “the beginning” of a “change for the Bush administration.” DeLong, who worked for the Clinton treasury department, notes Paulson’s Wall Street bona fides and argues he “is not somebody who is going to passively watch economic policy made by political operatives in the White House.”

But at the Carpetbagger Report, progressive political consultant Steve Benen wonders how influential Paulson can be. “Bush keeps power in the West Wing,” he writes. “The Treasury Secretary has only slightly more influence on fiscal and budgetary matters than I do. One need only ask John Snow and Paul O’Neill about their policy roles, which were non-existent.” University of Chicago political scientist Daniel W. Drezner, a conservative,shares Benen’s concern. He asks readers whether Paulson will have “a seat at the policymaking table, or is he merely going to be a much better salesman than Snow?”

Steve Soto at the Left Coaster derides Paulson’s nomination as too little, too late. “This pick would have made sense at the start of the second term, if Bush was really interested in changing course and listening to wise folks on Wall Street about the mess his tax and fiscal policies have created.”

Read more about Paulson’s nomination.

The pope at Auschwitz: On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI, a German, delivered a speech at Auschwitz as part of a final stop on his trip to Poland. “Constantly the question comes up: Where was God in those days? Why was he silent? How could he permit this endless slaughter, this triumph of evil?” Benedict said in his speech. Bloggers have other questions for the pope.

Catholic blogger Andrew Sullivan attacks the pope for claiming the Nazis abused Germans. “It was a function of resilient denial—denial that the German people had en masse backed Nazism long after its true nature had become known; and denial of the criminal silence and acquiescence of the Vatican hierarchy during that period of time,” he writes.

At normblog, Norman Geras also criticizes the pope’s focus on German victimhood. Geras sees an “odd balance of emphases” in a speech that questions God but speaks “circumspectly” of the “more worldly responsibility of the German people” for the Nazis’ crimes. “The dominant thought here is of a people deceived, terrorized, used and abused,” he writes, “and therefore not in any large degree themselves the agents of what befell them and of what, more terribly, befell others.” He concludes, “Not only God was silent—if indeed He was.”

UNC law professor Eric Muller at Is That Legal? offers a thoughtful point-by-point analysis of Benedict’s address. Muller writes, “Josef Ratzinger’s understanding of this chapter of modern German history does not even rise to the level of the ordinary. Ratzinger is out at the self-absolving fringes of his generation on the question of German responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich.” Muller adds, “These are troubling words. They are not the words of a moral leader.”

Read more about Benedict’s visit to Auschwitz.

Wrangling over Reid: The AP reported Monday that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid accepted free boxing tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission on three occasions between 2003 and 2005, “while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.”

Predictably, the news delighted conservative bloggers such as John Hawkins at Right Wing News, who attacks the apparent hypocrisy of Reid, who has been pounding Republicans for their “culture of corruption.” “For a guy who loves to claim that there is a Republican, ‘culture of corruption,’ Harry Reid sure does seem to get caught with his hand in the cookie jar a lot,” he writes. At Captain’s Quarters, Captain Ed makes largely the same point, arguing, “Democrats who have busied themselves painting corruption as an exclusively Republican affair have hit a number of obstacles to that message.” He adds that, as he predicted, Democrats are coming to regret “their attempts to turn corruption into a partisan campaign issue.”

Several liberal bloggers look beyond questions of appearance and political strategy to examine the accusation itself. At TPM Muckraker, Paul Kiel looks at the Senate rules and notes, “there is an exception for gifts from governmental agencies (like the Nevada Athletic Commission),” which leads him to conclude “there is nothing untoward about Reid having accepted the free tickets.” At the Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas weighs in with some remarkably heavy Democratic spin: “If this is the best that months of investigative digging can do on our Senate leader, then I’m confident we’re in pretty solid footing.” But Moulitsas also echoes Josh Marshall in questioning the motives of the AP reporter behind the story. At Talking Points Memo, Marshall wonders whether the reporter, John Solomon, is “developing something of an Ahab complex with that Great White Whale of the Senate, Harry Reid.” Marshall cites an example of a previous Solomon piece on Reid.

Read more about Harry Reid and the free boxing tickets.