Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Lawrence Lessig: Trump’s border wall demand is constitutionally illegitimate
It feels quaint – maybe a bit absurd – to remark the fact that Donald Trump has no constitutionally moral justification for his demand that Congress fund the building of a wall on the Mexican border. Such an argument feels absurd when made against this president. Yet it should not be insignificant to Congress.
The president ran on a promise to build a wall “paid for by Mexico”. No majority of Americans has ever voted to support that idea. But that idea is not the notion that is now shutting down the government. A wall paid for by taxpayers is. That wall certainly was a central issue in the 2018 midterm elections. Overwhelmingly, the public rejected it as well. Thus has the president earned public support for neither version of his Mexican wall. Yet he is using his veto power to demand that Americans pay for a wall before he will allow the government to reopen.
Paul Krugman: Elizabeth Warren and Her Party of Ideas
Almost 40 years have passed since Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a serious intellectual turned influential politician — made waves by declaring, “Of a sudden, Republicans have become a party of ideas.” He didn’t say that they were good ideas; but the G.O.P. seemed to him to be open to new thinking in a way Democrats weren’t.
But that was a long time ago. Today’s G.O.P. is a party of closed minds, hostile to expertise, aggressively uninterested in evidence, whose idea of a policy argument involves loudly repeating the same old debunked doctrines. Paul Ryan’s “innovative” proposals of 2011 (cut taxes and privatize Medicare) were almost indistinguishable from those of Newt Gingrich in 1995.
Meanwhile, Democrats have experienced an intellectual renaissance. They have emerged from their 1990s cringe; they’re no longer afraid to challenge conservative pieties; and there’s a lot of serious, well-informed intraparty debate about issues from health care to climate change.
Michelle Goldberg: Rashida Tlaib Said Nothing Wrong
Last Thursday, newly elected Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, spoke at the People’s Swearing-In, a party celebrating the progressive women who make the 2019 congressional class so distinctive. Tlaib praised her fellow freshman Sharice Davids, the Native American lesbian and former mixed-martial-arts fighter from Kansas. “When people like us do run for office and don’t change anything about us, we win,” she said to cheers.
Then she spoke about what her victory meant to her son, who told her it showed that bullies — like Donald Trump — don’t win. “And I said, ‘Baby, they don’t,’” Tlaib recalled. “Because we’re going to go in there, and we’re going to impeach the mother.” Though of course, as you surely know by now, “mother” wasn’t the whole of what she said. [..]
The whole tempest was so monumentally stupid that I was tempted to ignore it, particularly since it’s starting to blow over. But it’s worth trying to figure out what the uproar was really about, since it could be a sign of the kind of media coverage this brash new group of representatives, particularly female representatives, might be in for.
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Why the ideas primary matters
What promises to be a fiercely contested 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign has begun. Already too much of the reportage focuses on the horse race: who’s up and who’s down, who’s likable or electable, who’s sparring with whom, and who’s facing scandal. But what’s fascinating about this campaign — as Robert L. Borosage reports in the Nation this week — is that the primary may well feature a contest of ideas.
Democrats are, of course, looking for the candidate best suited to rout President Trump. Getting rid of him is necessary but not sufficient. Trump’s election was a byproduct of the failures of the establishments of both parties. As even Hillary Clinton acknowledged in her book on the 2016 campaign, Americans are looking for fundamental change, for “big bold ideas” that might actually deal with the challenges we face.
Carol Anderson: What is America going to do about its Trump problem in 2019?
It’s gut-check time. With each guilty plea, each indictment, each tweet, it becomes evident that Donald Trump is not the legitimate president of the United States. He was hoisted into the White House by at least one foreign power to whom he and his regime are now beholden. Trump’s domestic and international policies, such as an ill-conceived tariff war with China, unplanned troop withdrawals from Syria, and US abdication from key international treaties, reflect a White House that has been captured and is implementing the chaos policies that Vladimir Putin wanted.
The big question for 2019, however, is “What are Americans going to do about it?”
Impeachment will not be sufficient. Nor will a deal where Trump simply resigns and hands over the reins to Vice-President Mike Pence, who was handpicked by now-convicted felon Paul Manafort (guilty of conspiracy against the United States), and, who, as head of the transition team, overlooked the numerous warnings about Michael Flynn as a national security risk.
The problem, frankly, isn’t simply Donald Trump. He has been aided by a coterie of enablers, who have exploited the fissures, flaws, norms and loopholes in American democracy that allowed the unscrupulous to prosper at the expense of the people and the nation itself.