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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Paul Krugman: Biden and Sanders, Behaving Badly
A bad-faith debate over health care coverage.
Health care was a key factor in Democrats’ victory in the 2018 midterm elections, and it should be a big plus in 2020 as well. The shared Democratic position — that every legal resident should have access to affordable care, regardless of income or health status — is immensely popular. The de facto Republican position — that we should go back to a situation in which those whose jobs don’t come with health benefits, or who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions, can’t get insurance — is so unpopular that G.O.P. candidates consistently lie about their own proposals.
But right now, two of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, are having an ugly argument about health care that could hurt the party’s chances. There are real, important differences between the two men’s policy proposals, and it’s fine to point that out. What’s not fine is the name-calling and false assertions. Both men are behaving badly. And for their party’s sake, and their country’s, they need to stop it.
Let’s back up. There are, broadly speaking, two ways a country can try to achieve universal health insurance. One is single-payer: The government simply pays the bills. The other retains a role for private insurance but relies on a combination of regulations and subsidies to ensure that everyone gets covered.
Charles M. Blow: Denying Racism Supports It
Refusing to address and acknowledge the prejudices in our country is a big part of the problem.
When did we arrive at the point where applying the words racist and racism was more radioactive than actually doing and saying racist things and demonstrating oneself to be a racist?
How is it that America insists on knowledge of the unknowable — what lurks in the heart — in order to assign the appellation?
Why are so many Americans insisting that racism requires conscious, malicious intent in order for the title to be earned?
Last week, much of America wrestled with whether to label the president racist after he published racist tweets about four congresswomen of color, demonstrating once again in the most overt terms that he is indeed a racist.
And yet many, including those in the media, struggled with whether or not to label his tweet, and by extension Donald Trump himself, as racist.
Nicholas Kristof: The G.O.P. Is Now a Personality Cult
The party no longer stands for much of anything.
The tragedy of today’s Republican Party lies partly in how far it has tumbled from its heights.
This is the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. It is the party that built interstate highways, championed family planning, founded the Environmental Protection Agency, opened relations with China, confronted the Soviet Union and managed the collapse of Communism.
It is the party that under Ronald Reagan welcomed refugees. It is the party of men who exemplified decency like George H.W. Bush and adherence to a moral compass like John McCain.
At a rally in 2008, McCain corrected a questioner who called Barack Obama untrustworthy and an “Arab.” “No, ma’am,” McCain told the crowd. “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”
Today that Grand Old Party has devolved into a personality cult surrounding a racist demagogue who incites a mob to chant about a Somali-American member of Congress: “Send her back!”
Eugene Robinson: We can’t pretend this is a normal election
Bring it on.
If President Trump and the Republican Party want the 2020 election to be a referendum on unabashed white supremacy, that’s their choice. Voters who embrace the views of David Duke and other proud racists will have Trump to vote for. Voters who disagree will have a Democratic alternative. Simple as that.
At the moment, it is difficult to see the coming contest in any other light. Make America Great Again has completed its sinister transformation into Make America White Again, and it’s foolish to pretend otherwise.
No sensible person should want such a fight. In a sprawling, diverse nation such as ours, with such a long and troubled history on issues of race, a certain amount of pretense is necessary. We try to bury our ugliest fears and resentments beneath a nobler commitment to the pluralistic ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. At our best, we subsume our private prejudices beneath a sense of civic responsibility.
But Trump is no sensible person, and he obviously does not represent our best. He is a demagogue with one highly effective political move: driving wedges. He is now trying to open a chasm between white and nonwhite Americans, and he wants to force his potential supporters to choose a side.
Michasel Gerson: Republican leaders are shilling for a bigot
American politics is now caught in an odd and dangerous form of escalation.
The cycle begins with President Trump engaging in some form of divisive prejudice, either out of calculation or compulsion. (A group of elected, progressive women of color, say, should “go back” to their hellhole countries of origin.) There is a public outcry, including from some morally offended members of the media. Elected Republicans then blame the media for ideological bias and not focusing on “real” issues. Then Trump, either out of political calculation or personal compulsion, doubles down on bigotry. (“I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country.”) Another outcry ensues . . .
What is the damage? Well, if you believe that constructive leadership can elevate, it follows that irresponsible leadership can debase. Particularly in a democracy, political rhetoric has high stakes. A politician can either side with the angels or unleash the beast.
Trump’s reelection strategy is clearly beast liberation. And this has implications for his political followers, who must abandon morality or rationality or both.