Pondering the Pundits

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: Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy

Do Democrats understand what they’re facing?

Item: Last week Republicans in the North Carolina House used the occasion of 9/11 to call a surprise vote, passing a budget bill with a supermajority to override the Democratic governor’s veto. They were able to do this only because most Democrats were absent, some of them attending commemorative events; the Democratic leader had advised members that they didn’t need to be present because, he says, he was assured there would be no votes that morning.

Item: Also last week, Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena to the acting director of national intelligence, who has refused to turn over a whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s inspector general found credible and of “urgent concern.” We don’t know what the whistle-blower was warning about, but we do know that the law is clear: Such complaints must be referred to Congress, no exceptions allowed. [..]

What the stories have in common, however, is that they illustrate contempt for democracy and constitutional government. Elections are supposed to have consequences, conveying power to the winners. But when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P. does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn’t spoken.

Greg Sargent: Get ready for a spectacular display of Trump’s corruption

At a rally in New Mexico on Monday night, President Trump ridiculed the idea that Democrats might impeach him based on the special counsel’s findings. He claimed the investigation was run by “18 Trump haters,” but that “after two years, they found nothing.”

In so doing, Trump suggested that the investigation was deeply corrupt while simultaneously claiming it totally exonerated him — two big lies in one.

Yet even as Trump lied to his rallygoers’ faces, we learned that the White House counsel has ordered two top Trump advisers to defy subpoenas for testimony to the Judiciary Committee, which is considering articles of impeachment against Trump, while sharply limiting a third former adviser’s testimony to the panel.

Which raises a question: If the case against Trump’s corruption were so weak, then why would Trump and the White House have to go to such extraordinary lengths to stonewall Congress’ ability to exercise its most basic and fundamental oversight authority?

Eugene Robinson: The hardest job for the next president may be fixing Trump’s mess

I want to hear the Democratic presidential candidates explain, convincingly, how they’re going to beat Donald Trump. Then I want to hear how they propose to repair the devastating damage Trump has done to all three branches of government — and to our trust in our institutions.

First, Trump has to be sent packing. I shudder to think of what four more years of this chaos and decay would do to the nation. Trump is so unpopular, and has so neglected making any attempt to broaden his base, that the agenda of the eventual Democratic nominee is clear: motivate loyal Democratic constituencies to turn out in large numbers; win back at least some of the Rust Belt voters who chose Barack Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016; and invite independents and anti-Trump Republicans along for the ride.

None of these tasks is mutually exclusive, and none involves rocket science. With just a couple of exceptions, I can see any of the Democrats onstage last Thursday getting the job done. But then would come the hard part.

Perhaps the most straightforward and least complicated undertaking, since it would be entirely within the next president’s purview, is rebuilding the executive branch from the corrupted ruin Trump will leave behind.

Catherine Rampell: The Saudi-Iran crisis could end Trump’s lucky streak on the economy

So far, under the auspices of the Trump presidency, we’ve been quite lucky.

It’s a weird perspective, I know, given the doom and gloom that often fills these pages. But Americans have indeed enjoyed relatively good fortune in the following sense: Most of our crises, political challenges and public embarrassments thus far have been almost completely Trump-generated. That’s true both domestically (Cabinet scandals, administrative chaos, government shutdowns, etc.) and internationally (trade wars, diplomatic insults, Helsinki-gate, etc.).

But a major external economic or geopolitical shock? So far, President Trump — and thankfully the rest of us — haven’t yet been tested.

That means we haven’t had to deal with however this administration might handle, or more likely bungle, such a challenge. And we likewise haven’t seen how resilient his political support would be if the economy continued to weaken.

Unfortunately, our luck could be running out.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Democrats, don’t be afraid to go big in 2020

In 2016, Hillary Clinton infamously declined to make a campaign stop in Wisconsin. That decision proved disastrous, as Donald Trump stunned Clinton in the Badger State, along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, on his way to capturing the electoral college. Now, almost four years later, Democrats are at risk of overlearning from Clinton’s mistakes.

No primary ballots have been cast, but a consensus is already emerging that next year’s presidential election will be decided by fewer states than any election in recent memory: Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. Democratic strategist Jim Messina, who managed President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, said the circumstances dictate an unusually narrow playing field. “We are now looking at the smallest map in modern political history,” he told The Post’s Dan Balz. [..]

Democrats can no longer take their “blue wall” in the upper Midwest for granted; that much is clear. But winning back the states that Trump turned red should not come at the expense of the party’s efforts to expand the electoral map, compete for new voters and build a more diverse coalition nationally. If it does, Democrats are likely to regret it even if they pull off a victory in the presidential race.