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: Trump and His Corrupt Old Party
For Republicans, there is no bottom.
Formally, the House of Representatives is holding an inquiry into the question of whether Donald J. Trump should be impeached. In reality, we’ve known the answer to that question for a long time. In a different era, when both parties believed in the Constitution, Trump’s abuse of his position for personal gain would have led to his removal from office long ago.
No, what we’re actually witnessing is a test of the depths to which the Republican Party will sink. How much corruption, how much collusion with foreign powers and betrayal of the national interest will that party’s elected representatives stand for?
And the result of that test seems increasingly clear: There is no bottom. The inquiry hasn’t found a smoking gun; it has found what amounts to a smoking battery of artillery. Yet almost no partisan Republicans have turned on Trump and his high-crimes-and-misdemeanors collaborators. Why not?
The answer gets to the heart of what’s wrong with modern American politics: The G.O.P. is now a thoroughly corrupt party. Trump is a symptom, not the disease, and our democracy will remain under dire threat even if and when he’s gone.
Eugene Robinson: magine defending Trump after this week’s hearings. Oh, wait…
After this week’s impeachment testimony, if Republicans continue to insist that Dear Leader President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong — and they might do just that — then the GOP has surrendered any claim to being a political party. It would be a full-fledged cult of personality.
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who gave hours of riveting testimony Wednesday, clearly was determined not to be the fall guy for Trump’s Ukraine bribery scheme. He saw the danger of being portrayed as some sort of rogue actor, and he was having none of that.
“We followed the president’s orders,” he testified. And in defining “we,” he implicated Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, among others, as knowing of or participating in the attempt to coerce Ukrainian officials into fabricating dirt on Trump’s potential Democratic opponent in the coming election, Joe Biden. [..]
Arms for dirt. That was the exchange Trump demanded, using as leverage taxpayer funds that had been appropriated to buttress U.S. national security. Explain to me how anyone can honestly believe that is an appropriate use of presidential power.
Charles M. Blow: Failing to Decipher Black Voters
This group is multifaceted. Understanding that is key.
There was quite a bit of talk about the black vote and the black community at Wednesday night’s presidential debate.
Maybe that’s because they were in Atlanta, the majority-black capital of the South. But it is also, I am sure, because black voters have played and continue to play a crucial role in who gets the Democratic nomination. [..]
I believe deeply that much of the Democratic field is still struggling — and failing — to decipher what animates the bulk of black voters. As much as I believe in polling and its ability to uncover information, I don’t believe that the way black people are polled is sufficient and comprehensive.
As I’ve mentioned before, the black vote is multifaceted, like any group of voters. Young black voters see things differently from older ones. There is a slight but statistically significant difference in the way black women vote compared with black men. And black voters in the South see things slightly different from the way black voters in the North and West see things.
Randall D. Eliason: Nunes’s ‘carousel of allegations’ all contain impeachable acts
A common Republican criticism in the ongoing impeachment proceedings is that Democrats have repeatedly changed their position concerning what offense President Trump may have committed in his dealings with Ukraine. In his opening statement on Thursday, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Republican, said: “The offense itself changes depending on the day, ranging from quid pro quo, to extortion, to bribery, to obstruction of justice, then back to quid pro quo.” He accused Democrats of riding on a “carousel of allegations.”
But there is no carousel. As a legal description of the president’s conduct, all of these charges are accurate, and all at the same time. [..]
In any event, there is no “carousel of allegations.” Bribery, extortion and quid pro quo are simply different ways to say the same thing: that the president abused the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to take actions that would personally benefit him. It’s not at all uncommon for the same conduct to violate more than one statute. A crime by any other name still smells as corrupt. But the Constitution specifically names bribery as a basis for impeachment. That’s reason enough alone to choose that term to describe the president’s conduct.
When neoliberals and centrists defend “the system” or warn against upending it, they’re more likely expressing concerns about their losing their personal power base than they are about the Party winning elections.
There are two ways to practice politics: you can either follow polls or shape them. For four decades now, Democrats have been poll followers, and Republicans have been poll shapers.
Recently, President Obama urged the Democrats to continue being poll followers, saying, “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.” The evidence suggests he’s wrong about that, but even if he isn’t, Democrats need to change the mind of the average American, not be led by it.
Here’s why. “The system” was designed by and for corporate America and the ultra-rich, and it has robbed people of their power and their livelihood, and undermined the Democratic Party. [..]
When neoliberals and centrists talk about “the system,” they’d like us to think about the democratic republic defined by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the nearly two centuries of respect and practice that governed those implementing the Enlightenment values contained in these documents. But that system is gone. It has been replaced by an oligarchy.
The time to follow polls is long gone. If we are to restore our freedoms, we must shape polls, not follow them. Fortunately, leading a progressive rebellion against the oligarchy is not only the moral thing to do; it’s smart politics, too.