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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Eric Posner and Emily Bazelon: Trump Is Politicizing the Pandemic. Governors Can Fight Back.

States need the federal government, and that has allowed Mr. Trump to indulge his worst tendencies.

As the Trump administration has floundered in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s governors have tried to step into the breach.

Gavin Newsom of California was the first to issue a statewide order to stay home. In Washington State, Jay Inslee’s aggressive measures have gotten credit as the rate of increase of the infection appears to be starting to slow. And Andrew Cuomo’s daily news conferences in New York have become a steady and popular source of sound information and empathy.

These governors and other local officials have offered a welcome alternative to the president’s erratic directives and briefings. And their forceful actions may seem to vindicate the wisdom of the founders, who reserved important functions to the states so that the national government would not grow too powerful. As Vice President Mike Pence put it on March 22, “One of the things that makes America different is that we have a system of federalism.”

But in the context of the pandemic, federalism has allowed President Trump to indulge his worst tendencies. States depend on the federal government to confront disease outbreaks like the coronavirus pandemic. In the early days of Covid-19, state and local officials weren’t in a position to foresee the scope of the threat or control the levers that could have suppressed it.

Amanda Marcotte: Don’t get too excited about Trump’s “somber” tone — he’ll be back to normal soon

Mainstream press gushes over Trump’s temporarily adult tone, but we all know he’ll backslide soon enough

On Tuesday, Donald Trump held a press conference that sounded slightly less like the P.T. Barnum-style daily events whose ratings he’s been bragging about ever since he took them over from Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump feared was hogging the spotlight. He managed to admit the death toll is likely to be a six-digit number and, after spending months minimizing the new coronavirus, even admitted this is worse than the flu. Naturally, the forever-gulllible press immediately began praise Trump as if he were a two-year-old who went poo-poo in the potty like a big boy. [..]

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for these folks, even though they’re marks walking into a trap laid by a con artist who has been grifting since he first went poo-poo in the potty. It’s not easy to accept the reality of our nightmarish situation. A pandemic is ripping across the country and our president, a man who meets every criterion on the sociopath checklist, does not care how many people die or face financial ruin, so long as he can win re-election. Of course it’s alluring to believe that there is a human being capable of compassion or care somewhere inside that ghoulish exterior, and that he will rise to this occasion.

This is exactly the kind of thing abuse victims go through with their abusers, often for years: Believing that this time he has changed, he won’t hit you again, those flowers he bought when he apologized are so nice, and so on. But it’s important to come to grips with the fact that he will always hit you again.

Jennifer Rubin: Trump is always the last to figure it out

If you watch New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, or most every other governor (except the bumbling Ron DeSantis of Florida) at his or her daily news conference, you will see someone in command of the facts (e.g., number of infected patients, number of beds, number of ventilators, number of discharged patients) and with a clear sense of mission.

On Wednesday, Newsom rattled off lines like this: “Again, the prioritization of our day in date discussion interaction is the issue of hospitalizations and ICU beds. Roughly hospitalizations to ICUs are running about 41, almost 42%. You extrapolate that out based on the graph that was just provided in the model, we’ll exceed that phase one surge capacity of 50,000 somewhere in the middle part of May, and if you get up to about 66,000, that’s based upon our current modeling, we’re looking about 27,000 ICU beds that we’ll need to procure in this state.” Just imagine — no, you can’t do it — President Trump displaying that mastery of information. [..]

The contrast between the governors’ level of sophistication and Trump’s abject ignorance manages to still shock and appall us. On Wednesday, Trump explained how his thinking on covid-19 had changed. “The severity,” Trump said. “I think also in looking at the way that the contagion is so contagious, nobody’s ever seen anything like this where large groups of people all of a sudden have it just by being in the presence of somebody who has it. The flu has never been like that. . . . Also the violence of it if it hits the right person.” The contagion is so contagious. That’s the president of the United States.

Dana Milbank: Republicans were warned. Yet they persisted in defending Trump.

That notorious cut-up Mitch McConnell got an early jump on April Fools’ Day this year, blaming Democrats for the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“It came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial,” the Senate majority leader said Tuesday. “And I think it diverted the attention of the government.”

In addition to implicitly acknowledging that President Trump wasn’t paying attention to the growing danger, it was a curious entry into the blame game for the Kentucky Republican, who recently said this isn’t “a time for partisan bickering.”

If anybody was diverted, it was McConnell, who, along with most of his GOP colleagues, again put lockstep defense of the president ahead of the national interest. During the three weeks of the impeachment trial, public health experts gave stark warnings about the growing biological threat. In that same time, several Senate Democrats (and a few Republicans) urged a more robust mobilization.

You know who said nothing? McConnell.

Elliot Hannon: The Far Right Is Looking for Miracles and Scapegoats to Bail Us Out of the Coronavirus Crisis

The U.S. government is now providing a security detail for infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci because as his stature has grown as one of the pillars of the American response to the pandemic, so have the rumblings of the far-right, conspiracy-theory wing of President Donald Trump’s support. The 79-year-old has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 35 years, working with numerous administrations on infectious disease preparedness and response, ranging from HIV/AIDS to SARS and H1N1. To most Americans, that is a comforting sign of the experience and expertise that you would look for and appreciate in, say, the doctor who was treating your family. To conspiracy-minded Trump supporters, those decades of experience and public service are an indicator of something sinister: the anti-Trump deep state. [..]

The right wing has struggled to come to grips with the scale and potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A mixture of disbelief of anything beyond its immediate orbit, a profound unwillingness to take any coordinated personal action beyond consumption, and an implicit reliance on divine intervention have turned a distressingly large portion of the American political spectrum toward scapegoats rather than solutions. For the most virulent part of the Trump supporter base, Fauci is one of those scapegoats. “Outlets such as the Gateway Pundit and American Thinker seized on a 2013 email—released by WikiLeaks as part of a cache of communications hacked by Russian operatives—in which Fauci praised Hillary Clinton’s ‘stamina and capability’ during her testimony as secretary of state before the congressional committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, Libya,” the Washington Post reports.