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In today's pages: Whitman, Polanski and Obama

September 29, 2009 | 12:32 pm

SteinToday's editorial page casts a wary eye on former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, whose candidacy for governor of California has been shaken by revelations that she didn't register to vote until she was 46 years old, and only became a Republican two years ago. Is someone so seemingly apathetic about politics the best choice to govern what may be the most ungovernable state in the union?

With all due respect to the French culture minister, who said U.S. efforts to prosecute filmmaker Roman Polanski revealed the face of a "scary America," we on the Times editorial board think it's time the 76-year-old fugitive was brought to justice. Polanski's defenders ignore the simple fact that he fled the country while facing charges of raping a 13-year-old girl. Even for successful movie directors, that's not OK.

The editorial page also weighs in on plans to upgrade the sagging waterfront in San Pedro, which the Harbor Commission will consider today. There's much to like in the proposal, but something not to like as well: Plans to build terminals for cruise ships adjacent to San Pedro's only public beach. We think commissioners should proceed with the overall plan, but table the outer harbor cruise berths.

On the Op-Ed side, columnist Jonah Goldberg questions whether President Obama is living up to his centrist campaign rhetoric on the war in Afghanistan. While running for office, Obama tried to out-hawk Republican Sen. John McCain when it came to the war, but as the conflict becomes less popular he seems to be reconsidering. "What seemed like principled centrism in 2008 might simply be exposed as left-wing expediency in 2009."

Professor Christopher Layne and journalist Benjamin Schwarz ponder the waning of the Pax Americana, the post-war bargain in which the United States spent overwhelmingly on its military in order to secure world peace -- a practice that given current fiscal conditions is no longer sustainable. The result will likely be de-globalization as countries move more aggressively to pursue their financial and security interests.

Finally, civil rights lawyer Constance L. Rice bemoans the resignation of the head of the L.A. Unified School District's construction division, who was apparently forced out by district politics. The independent construction division was created to avoid more disasters like the spectacularly expensive Belmont Learning Center, and the increasing political interference doesn't bode well for the future.

Cartoon: Ed Stein / Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

-- Dan Turner

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