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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Jamelle Bouie: How to Foil Trump’s Election Night Strategy

To keep the president from claiming victory on Nov. 3, Biden supporters who can vote in person may well have to.

There’s no mystery about what President Trump intends to do if he holds a lead on election night in November. He’s practically broadcasting it.

First, he’ll claim victory. Then, having spent most of the year denouncing vote-by-mail as corrupt, fraudulent and prone to abuse, he’ll demand that authorities stop counting mail-in and absentee ballots. He’ll have teams of lawyers challenging counts and ballots across the country.

He also seems to be counting on having the advantage of mail slowdowns, engineered by the recently installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Fewer pickups and deliveries could mean more late-arriving ballots and a better shot at dismissing votes before they’re even opened, especially if the campaign has successfully sued to block states from extending deadlines. We might even see a Brooks Brothers riot or two, where well-heeled Republican operatives stage angry and voluble protests against ballot counts and recounts. [..]

The only way to prevent this scenario, or at least, rob it of the oxygen it needs to burn, is to deliver an election night lead to Biden. This means voting in person. No, not everyone will be able to do that. But if you plan to vote against Trump and can take appropriate precautions, then some kind of hand delivery — going to the polls or bringing your mail-in ballot to a “drop box” — will be the best way to protect your vote from the president’s concerted attempt to undermine the election for his benefit.

Amanda Marcotte: Twitter may not like it, but Kamala Harris was probably the right choice

Harris was the favorite all along — picking her was smart politics, and speaks well of our country’s progress

Despite former Sen. Chris Dodd’s relentless war on her in the press, it appears that Sen. Kamala Harris of California is Joe Biden’s pick as a running mate for the former vice president’s contest against Donald Trump this November.

While Harris is the subject of heavy criticism from some corners of the left — the same folks who embraced a phrase seeded by right-wing trolls, “Kamala is a cop” — the reality is that Harris makes a lot of sense as a running mate for Biden. [..]

Harris’ abilities as a prosecutor, which she deployed in her criticisms of Biden and in her questioning of witnesses before the Judiciary Committee, are exactly the sort of thing one wants in a running mate. The candidate himself needs to be viewed as someone who can “rise above” the fray. To make that work, it helps to have a running mate who can play the role of the brawler. Biden famously did this for Barack Obama, especially in 2012 when he decimated Rep. Paul Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s running mate, during the vice presidential debate. Now Harris can play that role for him.

More to the point, there’s not much downside to Harris — and that matters a whole hell of a lot. Despite the heavy media attention to the running-mate selection, the evidence is clear that the vice-presidential nominee does little, if anything, to bolster the candidate’s chances with any particular voting demographic. But a running mate can hurt a campaign by making the candidate look like he has bad judgment, as happened with Sen. John McCain, when he picked laughingstock Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in his 2008 run against Obama.

Heather Digby Parton: Mark Meadows is Donald Trump’s worst chief of staff — which is really saying something

Former Freedom Caucus head is in over his head, obeying his worst instincts and wrecking the place — like his boss

The White House chief of staff is one of the most powerful jobs in a presidential administration. According to Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” the “responsibilities of the chief of staff are both managerial and advisory and can include the following duties”: [..]

One would expect that such a job would require someone with managerial experience and a knowledge of government functions, as well as the trust of the president and other powerful political players. It’s obviously a tough, demanding position.

Obama did in two terms. His first was former Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, who was in so far over his head he didn’t make it past the first six months. He was replaced by retired Gen. John Kelly, who had first been appointed as Trump’s secretary of homeland security. The hope was that a skilled leader with management experience could instill discipline and tame the palace intrigue, but in the end, Kelly found that Trump was uncontrollable and all else flowed from that so he was out as well.

Then came the former Tea Party congressman from South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney, who had been serving simultaneously as head of the Office of Management and Budget and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Multiple appointments, often of people who serve only in an “acting” capacity, are a hallmark of the Trump administration.) This past spring, with the coronavirus pandemic raging in the Northeast, Trump lost faith in Mulvaney too and he was “moved” to the job of special envoy for Northern Ireland. His replacement was another Republican congressman, former Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows of North Carolina. As shocking as this may be, it appears he may be the worst one yet.

Michelle Cottle: Dreading the Debates? They Don’t Have to Be So Awful

With or without Trump, presidential debates could use an overhaul.

With many usual fixtures of campaigning upended by the coronavirus pandemic — rallies, town halls, fund-raisers, conventions — President Trump has been looking to beef up one of the few remaining pieces: the debates.

The Commission on Presidential Debates has scheduled three matchups between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the first set for Sept. 29. Noting that many states will have already begun early voting by then, the Trump campaign last week sent a letter to the commission asking that a fourth debate be added in early September — or, barring that, that the final debate be moved up from Oct. 22.

“A debate, to me, is a Public Service,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Thursday. “Joe Biden and I owe it to the American People!”

The commission rejected the request, insisting such a move was unnecessary.

The truth is that scheduling is way down the list of problems with presidential debates, in this election cycle or any other. Debates are indeed a public service, providing voters a rare opportunity to see the presidential contenders side by side and take their measure for an extended stretch of time in a high-pressure setting. But in practice, the events have degenerated into media spectacles, showcasing much that is wrong with both electoral politics and journalism.

Karen Tumulty: The qualities that hampered Harris’s campaign could be the ones that make her an ideal running mate

As a presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) fell short of the high expectations that greeted her electrifying entry into the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination. She didn’t even make it as far as Iowa.

But the qualities that hampered her when she was running in her own right could be what make her ideal as former vice president Joe Biden’s running mate — and ultimately, as his partner in governing the country as it struggles to recover from the devastation wrought by the novel coronavirus.

Harris brings to the ticket and potentially the White House the thrill of history as the first Black and Asian woman to be put forward by a major political party as a national candidate.

She had from the beginning been considered the front-runner on the list of a dozen or more qualified women said to be on Biden’s shortlist. (I should disclose here that my adult son works for the Biden campaign.)

There is an echo here of Biden’s own selection in 2008 to share the ticket with Barack Obama. Biden, too, was a onetime adversary who proved more effective as a wingman.