Introspective America

IN the best of all worlds, America might have toughed it out and not changed anything after the two attacks on the White House last fall. But of course the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building changed all that.

Clearly, the intent of setting rows of barricades and large concrete planters is to blunt the possibility of an explosive-carrying truck making a run at the White House.

Unlike the presidential palaces of juntas and despotic regimes throughout the world, the White House has always been remarkably accessible, as if an index of America's political stability. No longer. And take this development as a signal of more dramatic changes to come in the texture of American life, of further national introspection of which freedoms at the margins of our lives we might be willing to trade if the clear effect would be a greater level of security in those vital but vulnerable places, such as schools and work sites.

For instance, new measures of gun control may well require a consensual understanding about the need for some reductions of search and seizure protections.

Is America up to that kind of mature, working-together reexamination? It had better be.

Los Angeles Times

Representing respect

WHEN the Republican Party took over in Congress after 40 years of Democratic rule, there were some tense moments at the Capitol. The pent-up frustration of Republicans and the shock of Democrats was evident.

As the House closed its debate on the GOP budget plan, there was an interesting exchange.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R) of Ohio praised the ranking Democrat on the budget committee, Rep. Martin Sabo of Minnesota, as a man of courage and conviction.

''Over the last 40 years, whether it was civil rights, and the need for this country to begin to heal itself, or whether it was education or Medicare for senior citizens ... the Democratic Party did it,'' said Kasich, as House Speaker Newt Gingrich listened on the dais. Kasich then went on to say that Americans were eager to reassert themselves and solve problems in their own communities.

There is an examination on the role of government going on with the American people. It is refreshing to see congressional debate represent the dignity of the American system -- free people expressing free ideas.

The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.

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