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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Paul Krugman: Republicans Couldn’t Care Less About the Unemployed
Their cruelty and ignorance are creating another gratuitous disaster.
In case you haven’t noticed, the coronavirus is still very much with us. Around a thousand Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day, 10 times the rate in the European Union. Thanks to our failure to control the pandemic, we’re still suffering from Great Depression levels of unemployment; a brief recovery driven by premature attempts to resume business as usual appears to have petered out as states pause or reverse their opening.
Yet enhanced unemployment benefits, a crucial lifeline for tens of millions of Americans, have expired. And negotiations over how — or even whether — to restore aid appear to be stalled.
You sometimes see headlines describing this crisis as a result of “congressional dysfunction.” Such headlines reveal a severe case of bothsidesism — the almost pathological aversion of some in the media to placing blame where it belongs.
For House Democrats passed a bill specifically designed to deal with this mess two and a half months ago. The Trump administration and Senate Republicans had plenty of time to propose an alternative. Instead, they didn’t even focus on the issue until days before the benefits ended. And even now they’re refusing to offer anything that might significantly alleviate workers’ plight.
This is an astonishing failure of governance, right up there with the mishandling of the pandemic itself. But what explains it?
Well, I’m of two minds. Was it ignorant malevolence, or malevolent ignorance?
George T. Conway III: Trump’s name should live in infamy
If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he lies and he cheats. Endlessly. And shamelessly. But still, mostly, incompetently.
So it should have come as no surprise that Trump finally went where no U.S. president had ever gone before. In a tweet last week, he actually suggested that the country “Delay the Election.”
That trial balloon was a brazen effort to see if he can defraud his way into four more years in the White House. And why not try? After all, Trump has managed to swindle his way through life, on matters large and small, essential and trivial. [..]
Trump’s sanction must come at the polls, and beyond. For the sake of our constitutional republic, he must lose, and lose badly. Yet that should be just a start: We should only honor former presidents who uphold and sustain our nation’s enduring democratic values. There should be no schools, bridges or statues devoted to Trump. His name should live in infamy, and he should be remembered, if at all, for precisely what he was — not a president, but a blundering cheat.
Michelle Cottle: Disenchanted Seniors for Biden
The pandemic is particularly dangerous for older Americans, and Trump is losing their support.
The ad opens with amateur footage of an older, white-haired woman, smiling and chatting with the toddler snuggled in her lap. In a voice-over, a younger woman reminisces about how her grandmother’s home had always been “the safe place.”
Then came the coronavirus. [..]
In recent decades, older voters have tilted conservative. “No Democrat has won or broken even with seniors in two decades, since Al Gore in 2000 devoted much of his general-election campaign to warning that Republicans would cut popular programs like Social Security and Medicare,” The Times recently noted.
This was certainly the case in 2016, when Mr. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 13 percentage points among voters 65 and up, according to data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Along with his xenophobic scaremongering and culture-war revanchism, the Donald Trump of 2016 explicitly promised older voters that he would protect Social Security and Medicare. He assured them that he had their backs.
Four years on, many seniors aren’t feeling all that reassured and are wondering if maybe the president has turned his back on them. A growing pile of polls show this crucial cohort slipping from his grasp.
Charles M. Blow: Trump Forecasts His Own Fraud
In the president’s world, he is never to blame for failure.
This election is in danger of being stolen. By Donald Trump.
Trump is a win-at-all-costs kind of operator. For him, the rules are like rubber, not fixed but bendable. All structures — laws, conventions, norms — exist for others, those not slick and sly enough to evade them, those not craven enough to break them.
Trump is showing anyone who is willing to see it, in every way possible, that he is willing to do anything to win re-election, and will cry foul if he doesn’t, a scenario that could cause an unprecedented national crisis. [..]
In Trump’s world, he is never to blame for failure. He is the best, the greatest ever, like no one has ever seen before. He doesn’t fail. In reality, his life is chock-full of failure.
At the same time Trump is attacking voting by mail, he is undermining the mechanism by which it would be done: the United States Postal Service. This is fueling concerns by many that the Postal Service is being damaged precisely because of Trump opposition to mail-in voting.
Elizabeth Drew: Let’s Scrap the Presidential Debates
They’ve become unrevealing quip contests.
Nervous managers of the scheduled 2020 presidential debates are shuffling the logistics and locations to deal with the threat of the coronavirus. But here’s a better idea: Scrap them altogether. And not for health reasons.
The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president. When we were serious about the presidency, we wanted intelligence, thoughtfulness, knowledge, empathy and, to be sure, likability. It should also go without saying, dignity.
Yet the debates play an outsize role in campaigns and weigh more heavily on the verdict than their true value deserves. [..]
The better way to pay attention to and choose among the presidential candidates is to follow the long campaign that so many complain about. The reason for such moaning has always been a mystery, because unless the campaign is taking place in your living room, you can simply switch it off.
The key words are “pay attention to,” because over the stretch of 2015-2016 it wasn’t impossible to see the implications of a Trump presidency. Not just the vulgarity but the ignorance and insensitivity and extreme narcissism were apparent more than a year before Election Day.
Maybe Trump can’t successfully steal the election — but he’ll do as much damage as possible on his way out the door
One of the first things that activists and educators who work to stop domestic violence learn is this: The most dangerous time for the victim is when she tries to leave the abusive relationship. The abuser, desperate to keep his power and control over the victim, will drastically escalate the threats and violence if he senses that she’s looking for an escape route. If she does get out, the abuser will often track her down and try to force her to return through violence. This is why advocates for victims emphasize the importance of careful planning to escape an abusive relationship, since abusers rarely just let a victim walk away.
The parallels between the situation of many abuse victims and the nation’s dilemma when it comes to removing Donald Trump from power have not been lost on feminists. As sex educator Twanna Hines noted on Twitter on Friday, Trump “knows his time is up.” She predicted that he will lash out the way that abusers do “when the relationship is ending.” [..]
But even though we’re likely to see a situation where former Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in as president on Jan. 20, 2021, that doesn’t mean we’re in anything like a position to relax. Like the abusive husband who would rather see his wife injured or dead than let her move out in peace, Trump will, as Election Day nears, increasingly turn to schemes to keep power that will pose real threats — not just to our democracy, but to the immediate safety and well-being of Americans.
Even if Trump is successfully removed from office, the amount of damage he could well do to punish the American people for rejecting him is, frankly, terrifying.