Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media 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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Karen Tumulty: A troublemaker with a gavel

Nancy Pelosi is still often the lone woman at the table. But she has paved the way for many others.

A few dozen people gathered one early March evening at the National Museum of American History to celebrate the opening of a new exhibition marking the centennial of women’s suffrage.

Collected in the glass cases are the artifacts of a long, arduous road to political empowerment:

A red silk shawl worn by Susan B. Anthony as she plied the hallways of the Capitol arguing for the right to vote.

A palm-sized campaign card from the 1916 campaign of Montana’s Jeannette Rankin, who became the first woman elected to Congress.

The brown felt hat that Bella Abzug wore at the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, where some 2,000 delegates declared: “We demand as a human right a full voice and role for women in determining the destiny of our world, our national, our families and our individual lives.”

The speaker who wielded that gavel on that day was, for the first time, a woman. Though Nancy Pelosi does not lack for self-confidence, she rarely indulges in public self-reflection. On that night at the Smithsonian, however, she gave a nod to those who had paved the way for her.

“The women who did all of this — oh my gosh — we revere them. We hold them up as icons. But what we hear people say is, ‘Yes, they were icons. You are troublemakers.’ They were considered troublemakers in their time, so maybe there is a future for all of us,” Pelosi said with a laugh. “But I can just tell you, a troublemaker with a gavel — that’s the real difference.”

Dahlia Lithwick: Republicans Seem to Think They Can Decide Who Dies

They are not appreciating the random menace this virus poses—against their own or anyone else.

Republicans who once decried the Affordable Care Act as a harbinger of “death panels” are now toying with cutting out the middleman and sentencing the country’s oldest to death without bothering with any panels at all. Yes, the same Republicans who once soberly asserted things like “there is a provision in [Obamacare] that anyone over the age of 74 has to go before what is effectively a death panel” are now cheerfully suggesting that a few dead elderly people would be a small price to pay to protect the U.S. economy in the coming weeks.

The poster boy of such stupidity is currently Dan Patrick, Texas’ Republican lieutenant governor, who told Tucker Carlson on Monday night that he and America’s other grandparents would be willing to risk their own lives if it meant America getting “back to work” before the pandemic was contained adequately. [..]

Patrick is of course wrong about virtually everything in this statement. He seems incapable of understanding that we can’t conclude anything about the virus without widespread testing, which remains unavailable. The U.S. numbers we do have certainly indicate that it’s not just the elderly who fall ill and die from the coronavirus—Americans between the ages of 20 and 54 represent almost 40 percent of the people who have been hospitalized in this country. They are taking beds, ventilators, and other resources away from young people in Porsche accidents just as much as the elderly are. Doctors and nurses, working with inadequate protective gear, are also becoming infected while treating patients, which means that someday Patrick’s capitalism-loving grandchildren won’t have any physicians when they injure themselves counting their stacks of money. And unless Patrick is saying that he and his other 70-year-old human sacrifices all plan to die painfully alone at home, they would all still be in hospitals infecting other budding young capitalists on their slow honorable death march to that great big stock exchange in the sky.

Michael McFaul: It’s imperative for the U.S. and China to work together on the coronavirus pandemic

The novel coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated already tense relations between the United States and China. Even before the coronavirus came along, many experts were already describing the relationship between the two countries as a “new Cold War” or “Cold War 2.0.” But now, the virus has added a new accelerant to the confrontation — with both sides now blaming each other for creating and spreading the disease.

The world’s two superpowers, the United States and China will remain competitors in many realms for decades to come. In parallel to confrontation, however, Chinese and American leaders also must realize that they share some interests that require cooperation. Addressing a global pandemic is one of them.

Unfortunately, both leaders in both countries have lately succumbed to some of their worst impulses. The Chinese government has been conducting a propaganda campaign — including even the expulsion of American journalists from China — to rewrite the origins of the virus and to blame the United States for its spread. The Trump administration has taken to referring to the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus.” Some U.S. officials have promised retribution for China’s role in spreading the virus internationally.

This blame game serves neither the long-term interests of the United States nor China. It needs to stop.

Ronald A. Klain: We must plan now for how to get back to business later

“Lock it down vs. let it open” is a flawed debate. It fails to recognize how much economic activity continues now, even in our current condition; it also fails to appreciate the nuanced alternatives to “going back to the way it was” when it is time to move toward normalization. Public health advocates need to do a better job of messaging their side of the coronavirus argument if they want to keep the American people as safe as possible. And all of us need a new way of thinking about risk management when it comes time to restore currently constrained parts of economic life.

At present, even in “lockdown” mode, wide swaths of economic activity continue. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s thoughtful executive order restricting economic activity — tough as it is — exempts 59 specific occupations from its scope. Not just doctors, nurses, health-care workers and first responders, but also, utility workers, hotel staff, parking garage attendants, farmers and food producers, warehouse and distribution workers, employees at laundromats and dry cleaners, those who manufacture paper products, hardware store employees, auto mechanics, payroll processors, electricians, janitors, and more than 40 other endeavors. If you are at home reading this, it is because someone is providing power and water and food and supplies and deliveries — and this newspaper — to you, by being at their workplace.

What are we doing to keep those people safe? I have seen no formal estimate, but it is no small share of the workforce. When some of us have completed our weeks in isolation, what about all of them? What about the doctors and nurses who will get sick by treating the ill without adequate protective gear? Let’s be clear: The virus will still be very much among us 14 days from now. We cannot wish it away.

Erik Wemple: NPR member station wisely bails on live coronavirus briefings

Dear Fox News, CNN, MSNBC: Read and learn.

Seattle NPR member station KUOW has issued a statement to explain its editorial decision to refrain from broadcasting live daily briefings hosted by President Trump and including members of the White House coronavirus task force. “After airing the White House briefings live for two weeks, a pattern of false information and exaggeration increasingly had many at KUOW questioning whether these briefings were in the best service of our mission — to create and serve a more informed public,” notes the statement, posted Wednesday afternoon. “Of even greater concern was the potential impact of false information on the health and safety of our community.”

KUOW provided three examples of bogus information stemming from the briefings. All of them — surprise — came from President Trump. [..]

KUOW could have gone on, of course, given the number of baseless and just plain bonkers statements coming from the president. These sessions long ago bifurcated into important proclamations and analysis from wise and informed government officials interrupted by clownish commentary from the president. The contrast of his patent incompetence with the professionalism of the task force members, in fact, is perhaps the best argument for airing them unfiltered.

That’s just too dangerous, however.

KUOW notes that the decision is not motivated by politics and that it will be reviewed each day. Good plan, though as long as the president takes the lectern, those daily decisions should be pretty easy.