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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Noah Bookbinder: Trump Is Gutting Our Democracy While We’re Dealing with Coronavirus
The president’s firing of the intelligence watchdog who validated the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint is his latest threat to the rule of law.
When President Trump announced late Friday that he would fire the government watchdog who told Congress about the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint, which ultimately led to his impeachment, it touched off one of the most acute threats yet to our democracy. But it didn’t even make the front page of most papers.
That’s understandable. Thousands of Americans are dying every day from the terrifying coronavirus pandemic. People are worried about their own safety and that of their families, as well as about their jobs and livelihood. Questions abound about how the crisis got to this point, whether the Trump administration took appropriate steps to address it, and what steps are needed to minimize the devastation going forward; there is little bandwidth for anything else.
But we can’t afford to ignore the anti-democratic steps the president is taking while the American people are appropriately preoccupied with this outbreak. If we don’t respond to these outrageous abuses now, the damage may be done by the time anyone is the wiser.
The worst of the president’s latest round of steps to undermine checks and balances came not just in this time of crisis, but on a Friday night, the classic black hole for sweeping problematic actions in Washington under the rug.
Jennifer Senior: This Is What Happens When a Narcissist Runs a Crisis
Trump’s catastrophic performance has as much to do with psychology as ideology.
Since the early days of the Trump administration, an impassioned group of mental health professionals have warned the public about the president’s cramped and disordered mind, a darkened attic of fluttering bats. Their assessments have been controversial. The American Psychiatric Association’s code of ethics expressly forbids its members from diagnosing a public figure from afar.
Enough is enough. As I’ve argued before, an in-person analysis of Donald J. Trump would not reveal any hidden depths — his internal sonar could barely fathom the bottom of a sink — and these are exceptional, urgent times. Back in October, George T. Conway III, the conservative lawyer and husband of Kellyanne, wrote a long, devastating essay for The Atlantic, noting that Trump has all the hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder. That disorder was dangerous enough during times of prosperity, jeopardizing the moral and institutional foundations of our country.
But now we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The president’s pathology is endangering not just institutions, but lives.
The hospital ship docked in New York City is a sad representation of the federal and local response to coronavirus: too little and far too late
The USNS comfort, the navy hospital ship deployed to New York City this week, was supposed to house 1,000 patients. Instead, it’s taken in only 20, refusing to accept New Yorkers suffering with coronavirus.
Sitting on idle on the Hudson River, the ship is quickly becoming a symbol of all that has gone horrifically wrong with both the federal and local response to the Covid-19 outbreak. There are about 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in New York City alone, with more than a thousand dead. Many, with the right course of action, could have been prevented.
Donald Trump, who has bumbled through every conceivable facet of preparation for this once-in-a-century pandemic, saw off the ship in Virginia to much fanfare. Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, and Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, greeted it upon arrival. But military and bureaucratic hurdles have prevented the Comfort from accepting most patients. [..]
Cuomo, perceived as a hero because Trump is so ill-fit for a crisis, has not performed much better. Though New York had more coronavirus cases, the state government closed public schools and implemented a shelter-in-place order after states like California, Ohio and Michigan, even though New York was the center of the outbreak. The curve was not flattened enough. New York, like northern Italy before it, is in a state of catastrophe.
Meanwhile, a vacant hospital ship floats uselessly on the river. For now, it’s sadly representative of the federal and local response to coronavirus: too little and far too late.
Charles M. Blow: Social Distancing Is a Privilege
The idea that this virus is an equal-opportunity killer must itself be killed.
People like to say that the coronavirus is no respecter of race, class or country, that the disease Covid-19 is mindless and will infect anybody it can.
In theory, that is true. But, in practice, in the real world, this virus behaves like others, screeching like a heat-seeking missile toward the most vulnerable in society. And this happens not because it prefers them, but because they are more exposed, more fragile and more ill.
What the vulnerable portion of society looks like varies from country to country, but in America, that vulnerability is highly intersected with race and poverty. [..]
Partly for this reason, we are left with deceptive and deadly misinformation. The perception that this is a jet-setters’ disease, or a spring breakers’ disease, or a “Chinese virus” as President Trump likes to say, must be laid to rest. The idea that this virus is an equal-opportunity killer must itself be killed.
And, we must dispense with the callous message that the best defense we have against the disease is something that each of us can control: We can all just stay home and keep social distance.
As a report last month by the Economic Policy Institute pointed out, “less than one in five black workers and roughly one in six Hispanic workers are able to work from home.”
Chaos in response to Covid-19 is no surprise. Nor is the unscrupulous operators’ pursuit of profit and political advantage
he utter chaos in America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic – shortages of equipment to protect hospital workers, dwindling supplies of ventilators and critical medications, jaw-dropping confusion over how $2.2tn of aid in the recent coronavirus law will be distributed – was perhaps predictable in a nation that prides itself on competitive individualism and hates centralized power.
But it is also tailor-made for Donald Trump, who has spent a lifetime exploiting chaos for personal gain and blaming others for losses. [..]
Donald Trump calls allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election a “hoax”. He called his impeachment a “hoax”. He initially called the coronavirus a “hoax”.
But the real hoax is Trump’s commitment to America. In reality he will do anything – anything – to hold on to power. In his mind, the coronavirus crisis is just another opportunity.