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: Attack of the Wall Street Snowflakes

Why can’t financial tycoons handle criticism?

Given all the recent focus on health policy, you might think that the medical-industrial complex would be heavily involved in the Democratic primary race, going all-out to block Elizabeth Warren. And a coalition of drug companies, insurers and hospitals is indeed running ads attacking “Medicare for all.”

But the health industry’s political role has been relatively muted so far. Partly this may reflect realism: Even if Warren becomes president, the chances of getting Medicare for all through Congress are small. It may also reflect the surprising openness of doctors to reform. While the American Medical Association still officially opposes single-payer, at a recent meeting, 47 percent of the delegates voted to drop that opposition.

No, the really intense backlash against Warren and progressive Democrats in general is coming from Wall Street. And while that opposition partly reflects self-interest, Wall Street’s Warren hatred has a level of virulence, sometimes crossing into hysteria, that goes beyond normal political calculation.

What’s behind that virulence?

Michelle Goldberg: On Ukraine, Trump Is a Con Man, but He’s Also a Mark

Corrupt forces find it easy to manipulate this president.

The heart of the Ukraine scandal, for which Trump will almost certainly be impeached, is simple. Trump used congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine, as well as the promise of a White House visit, to try to extort Ukraine’s president to announce investigations that would benefit Trump politically.

But there’s a broader story that’s still murky, because in this scandal Trump is both the perpetrator and the mark. Trump used the power of his office to try to force Ukraine to substantiate conspiracy theories. But the president was fed those conspiracy theories by people with their own agendas, who surely understood that he is insecure about Russia’s role in his election, and he will believe whatever serves his ego in the moment. The main reason Trump should be removed from office is that he has subverted American foreign policy for corrupt personal ends. But this scandal is the latest reminder of how easy sinister forces find it to pull his strings.

Eugene Robinson: Biden’s staying power has everything to do with beating Trump

How can we miss Joe Biden if he won’t go away?

It’s beginning to look as if Democrats don’t want him to go away at all. The betting odds, along with many of my fellow pundits, assess Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to be the likely nominee. So why, then, does Biden continue to hold a substantial lead in the national polls? And why, at the moment, is that lead growing?

The clear and simple answer has little to do with the Democratic Party’s progressive-vs.-moderate divide, which is more a theoretical chasm than a practical one. Biden’s staying power has everything to do with President Trump — and the imperative that the incumbent be defeated next November.

It now appears overwhelmingly likely that Trump will be impeached by the House and face trial in the Senate. The chance that 20 Republican senators will join with Democrats in voting to remove him from office is not zero — especially if public airing of the evidence against the president weakens his support among the GOP base — but remains, at this point, somewhere between small and minuscule.

We have no way of knowing how an incumbent president marked with the stigma of impeachment would fare in a bid for reelection, because such a thing has never happened before. But we’re likely to find out.

Dan Froomkin: Press Watch: CNN has a tough choice to make: Fake political drama or real political news?

The once-dependable news network has fallen into the Trump chasm with its array of gaslighters and shameless liars

There is no shortage of genuine drama heading into the 2020 election, but CNN continues to prefer cheap thrills over digging into what’s at stake with serious reporting, insight and expertise.

On Sunday, CNN brought chief White House befuddler Kellyanne Conway onto “State of the Union” so Dana Bash could waste what felt like hours failing to get Conway to acknowledge a few simple facts that are already fully established by gobs of incontrovertible evidence. (“Can you say definitively no quid pro quo for this military aid?”)

And last week, CNN appropriately caught vast amounts of flak for having put Trump apologist/gaslighter/dimwit Sean Duffy on its payroll to infuriate the network’s own anchors by spouting conspiracy theories and lashing out in a profoundly prejudiced way at a decorated veteran who came forward to speak the truth.

CNN president Jeff Zucker has said it’s important to help viewers understand what President Trump and his supporters are thinking — and he’s absolutely right. But there is nothing edifying about appearances by people like Conway or Duffy. They lie, they fabricate and they can’t genuinely explain what Donald Trump is thinking — because no one can.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s new impeachment strategy is familiar: Don’t believe your lying eyes

Trump keeps saying “read the transcript.” But that’s obviously the last thing he wants his supporters to do

No doubt, there were plenty of crappy white guys ready to cheer the orange hobgoblin whose racism and sexism helps distract them from their haunting and absolutely correct fears of their own inadequacies. But even at the UFC match, in the belly of the toxic-masculinity beast, Trump found that people hate him and was met with even more boos.

But this time, instead of just admitting that he can’t stick his head out public without being booed, Trump turned to his trusted friend, gaslighting, to deny the loud, undeniable booing recorded at Madison Square Garden. Trump took to Twitter and claimed it was “like walking into a Trump Rally.” Both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who were there and certainly heard the loud booing, insisted the claims about heckling were “fake,” even though, again, the video evidence proliferated online for anyone willing to watch it. Soon, a tedious debate on social media broke out, with Trump supporters trying to muddy the waters and deny what was clearly audible on the videos from Saturday.

It was a rehash of the Trump inauguration, when the White House, through then-press secretary Sean Spicer, vehemently insisted that Trump had drawn “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration,” a claim that anyone with functioning eyeballs could see was a flat-out lie. And yet Trump’s base played along, choosing to agree with the blatant lie instead of the evidence of their own senses.

These sorts of events, where Trump tells narcissistic lies about his own popularity and his followers pretend to believe him, might seem like silly diversions. But it turns out they serve a purpose. Trump is now pulling the same stunt with his impeachment defense, calling on his supporters to refuse to accept the evidence that’s front of their own eyes, and believe his transparent lies instead.