Paul Greenberg

It would be wrong to say this president had no policy toward the revolution in Egypt. On the contrary, he's had many. One for every day. Every hour. He still does. Just as he now does for Libya.

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Germany's otherwise quite competent and quite popular defense minister has been forced to resign. It seems his university revoked his doctoral degree after it was discovered that "he had violated academic standards in his thesis by failing to sufficiently credit some of his sources," which is a polite way of describing what a plagiarist does. He had to go.

There in a nutshell is the difference between the proper Wilhelmine idea of what public service should entail and the more with-it American way. In Germany, a plagiarist is deemed unfit for a cabinet post. Here he's made vice president.

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Remember Chris Dodd? He's the former U.S. senator from Connecticut and Countrywide Financial who joined with Barney Frank over in the House to push the reckless, feckless expansion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their joint efforts led to the great financial Panic of '08-09, aka the Great Recession, whose after-effects the country is still struggling to overcome.

Barney Frank is still in Congress and still insufferable. Chris Dodd has just found a new employer. And it's a match made in Purgatory. He's been named chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. Perfect. The ex-senator has gone from inflating the economy in Washington to puffing egos in Hollywood. Different venue, same shtick. He won't have to skip a beat. The more things change, the busier careerists stay.

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A remnant of the Democrats' claim to be a centrist party -- the think tank called the Democratic Leadership Council -- has closed shop. Long a haven and hatchery for the kind of Democrats still within the reach of reason, the DLC is giving up the fight. R.I.P.

Where have all the party's moderates gone? Gone with Joe Lieberman, one suspects. He'll be retiring from the Senate soon, and even he supported the Republican presidential candidate last time out -- his friend John McCain.

Adopting a rigid ideology makes neither party more attractive to those Americans who like their politics practical rather than doctrinal. The birthers, the truthers, the anti-fluoridation crusaders, and other such enthusiasts make for great diversions, not Republican electoral victories. However entertaining these various eccentrics, the voters tend to be more interested in practical solutions than rigid ideologies. That's the genius of American politics -- and our saving grace.

Whatever advantages appealing to the base of the party may have in the primaries, that approach tends to fade as summer gives way to fall. Partisan rants give way to more thoughtful appeals to the country as a whole.

The campaign for the Republican presidential nomination next year is turning into a competition to determine who can sound more like Ronald Reagan. But the next president may be the one who can capture the confidence of the broad middle ground of American politics rather than just its starboard side. A more appealing model for Republicans to follow in their search for a winning candidate in 2012 might be Dwight Eisenhower, who sought to unite the country at a difficult time rather than further divide it.

The defining personal characteristic of both those candidates, Reagan and Eisenhower, was their good will. In memory they always seem to be smiling. Maybe because they were. Principle doesn't have to be strident to be effective. Quite the contrary. Good will remains the most efficient force in politics. As it is in life.

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At last Bill Clinton has found an ambition higher than any political one. Rising above all the globaloney at the annual economic conference at Davos in Switzerland, he said his goal for the next decade was to ... become a grandfather.

Well, sure. Can anyone remember anything that was said at this year's convocation of the gods and gurus at Davos? Or at any year's, for that matter. But who can forget becoming a grandfather? It puts things in perspective. A long perspective. As long as the passing of the generations.

Speaking of his latest goal, Mr. Clinton acknowledged: "I have nothing to do with that achievement, but I would like it. I would like to have a happy wife, and she won't be unless she's a grandmother. It's something she wants more than she wanted to be president."

Well, sure again. Who wouldn't prefer being a grand to being president? Mr. Clinton's comment about the Mrs. only confirms the impression that Hillary was always the Clinton with the right priorities.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.