The Associated Press
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Times, Gainesville, Ga., on space race:
An American original passed away last week, a man who was a household name for a generation raised in an era when outer space was brought closer to earth and anything seemed possible.
Scott Carpenter, one of NASA's original Mercury 7 astronauts, died Thursday at age 88. He was the fourth American in space and second to orbit the globe after John Glenn, who at 92 is the only surviving member of the group that included Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton.
Those who read the book or saw the movie "The Right Stuff" know the story of a handful of gutsy, daredevil test pilots who willingly became America's first guinea pigs in the space race with the Russians. They were "Spam in a can" with no assurances of survival amid the breakneck advancements that hurtled them into the heavens. And in the case of Grissom and many others since, lives were indeed lost in the effort.
It was a remarkable time in which a charismatic president welcomed a new era of modern marvels by promising to reach the moon within a decade, a bold challenge considering we had only begun to create the intricate technological systems needed for such a mission.
Yet our nation embraced such endeavors, from space travel to self-cleaning ovens, with an eye toward the future. ...
Fast-forward to today. We now see our nation locked in a death grip of political gridlock, unable to join hands on any issue, much less venture to new worlds. There is no rallying point like the space program to bring us together; our arguments these days are over earth-bound concerns like budgets, health insurance and life's other necessities. Even then, we have few leaders with the vision to conquer new frontiers, mostly self-serving ideologues eyeballing polls and the next election rather than the cosmos.
If the space program was a validation of what we can do as a nation when the people and their leaders unite behind a common goal, today's standoff in Washington reflects the opposite end of that spectrum. ...
Godspeed to Astronaut Carpenter and his Mercury pioneers who went before him. They embodied the best of us then, and their brand of courage and daring would be a welcome antidote to our present-day torpor. In fact, a little more of the "right stuff" these days might just be the cure for what ails us.
Paris (Tenn.) Post-Intelligencer on not only Congress, America is polarized:
America has changed in the last 15 years. We have become more polarized, dividing ourselves into conservative and liberal camps, and hardening the positions we hold.
That's part of what's making this government gridlock so tough to crack.
In 1998, a study shows, about a third of the 226 Republicans in the House of Representatives represented districts that Democrat Bill Clinton won. By 2012, only 17 of the 234 seats won by Republicans also voted for Democrat Barack Obama.
Every Republican-held House district in Tennessee voted at least 64 percent for Mitt Romney last year.
The change is sharply etched in figures from our own Eighth Congressional District for the last two presidential elections.
In 2008, the Republican nominees in the two most recent presidential elections did about 1 percent better in our district than they did in the nation as a whole. But in 2012, the same calculation showed the GOP's candidates did 19 percent better than the national average, indicating a much more Republican swing.
Why is this so? ...
Whatever happened to the melting pot of America? Why do we have so much trouble realizing that our differences strengthen us instead of weakening us? Where did the marketplace of ideas go?
If this trend continues, the current government shutdown may be small in comparison with gridlocks to come.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Obamacare is still a step forward:
It's hard to tell which has done more to hurt the initial phase of the Affordable Care Act: continued Republican opposition or the inept rollout of the new law. To many citizens, the rollout problems -- which left millions unable to even log in to the system -- simply confirm GOP propaganda that Obamacare won't work.
That's wrong. Despite those initial problems, the Affordable Care Act is still a big step forward in reforming the nation's health care system, and we believe it will prove itself in the long run. It ensures that most of those now without health care insurance will get it. It removes onerous insurance requirements such as those involving pre-existing conditions. And it will even, contrary to some of the hysteria, help small businesses provide health insurance for their employees, as James Surowiecki's the Financial Page column on The New Yorker's website noted.