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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Paul Krugman: How the G.O.P. Can Still Wreck America

Even if Trump loses, his party can do immense damage.

After 2016, nobody will or should take anything for granted, but at this point Joe Biden is strongly favored to beat Donald Trump, quite possibly by a landslide. However, Trump’s party may still be in a position to inflict enormous damage on America and the world over the next few years.

For one thing, while Democrats are also favored to take control of the Senate, the odds aren’t nearly as high as they are in the presidential race. Why? Because the Senate, which gives the average voter in Wyoming 70 times as much weight as the average voter in California, is a deeply unrepresentative body.

And it looks as if a president who is probably about to become a lame duck — and who lost the popular vote even in 2016 — together with a Senate that represents a minority of the American people are about to install a right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court.

If you want a preview of how badly this can go, look at what’s happening in Wisconsin.

New York Times Editorial Board: End our National Crisis

The Case Against Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II.

Mr. Trump’s ruinous tenure already has gravely damaged the United States at home and around the world. He has abused the power of his office and denied the legitimacy of his political opponents, shattering the norms that have bound the nation together for generations. He has subsumed the public interest to the profitability of his business and political interests. He has shown a breathtaking disregard for the lives and liberties of Americans. He is a man unworthy of the office he holds.

The editorial board does not lightly indict a duly elected president. During Mr. Trump’s term, we have called out his racism and his xenophobia. We have critiqued his vandalism of the postwar consensus, a system of alliances and relationships around the globe that cost a great many lives to establish and maintain. We have, again and again, deplored his divisive rhetoric and his malicious attacks on fellow Americans. Yet when the Senate refused to convict the president for obvious abuses of power and obstruction, we counseled his political opponents to focus their outrage on defeating him at the ballot box.

Nov. 3 can be a turning point. This is an election about the country’s future, and what path its citizens wish to choose.

Amanda Marcotte: Trump’s encouragement of QAnon is dangerous — it makes protecting kids from real abuse harder

QAnon’s false stories distort people’s ideas of what sex abuse actually looks like, making prevention work harder

Last night, during the shameful town hall NBC gave Donald Trump so he could avoid another humiliating debate defeat at Joe Biden’s hands, Trump played the same game with QAnon that he does with white supremacists and right wing terrorists: Played dumb while giving winking encouragement to his more unhinged followers.

After repeatedly pretending not to know what this “QAnon” thing might be, when asked about it by journalist Savannah Guthrie, Trump then exposed himself as a liar by proving he does, in fact, know what QAnon purports to be about.

“I do know they are very much against pedophilia,” he said. “They fight it very hard.”

As most people not caught up in the cult of QAnon understand, the loosely organized online movement does not actually fight pedophilia. Its adherents promote a conspiracy theory that claims Trump is some kind of secret warrior in a fight against a worldwide liberal cabal of pedophiles, which leads to accusing innocent people of being sexual predators. That is very different from fighting child sexual abuse in the real world. But by framing QAnon as a sincere movement promoting well-meaning convictions, Trump is establishing a poisonous narrative that threatens to help mainstream it.

Michelle Golberg: Trump’s Misogyny Might Finally Catch Up With Him

If women defeat Trump, it will be because of all he’s done to defeat them.

Four years ago, many of us were counting on right-leaning women to deliver a decisive rebuke to Trump. Lots of journalists, myself included, wrote about the group Republican Women for Hillary. After the appearance of the “Access Hollywood” tape, female Republican governors and members of Congress were far more likely than their male peers to withdraw their endorsements. Katie Packer, deputy campaign manager of Mitt Romney’s 2012 bid, imagined a reckoning in her party after Trump’s loss. “There’s going to have to be a denunciation of this guy,” she told me then.

Needless to say, there wasn’t. Most women did indeed vote for Hillary Clinton, but Trump won either a plurality or an outright majority of white women, enough to give him the presidency. There turned out to be far less of a political penalty for vulgar misogyny than some of us realized.

Four years later, it’s hard not to feel an unnerving sense of déjà vu. Once again, the polls show a potentially historic gender gap in the presidential election. Journalists are reporting on all the women Trump has turned off. Last I checked, FiveThirtyEight gave Trump a 13 percent chance of victory, almost exactly the same odds he had three weeks before the election in 2016. For America to survive as a liberal democracy, this time has to be different. Is it?

Jamelle Bouie: Which Constitution Is Amy Coney Barrett Talking About?

Her originalism ignores the significance of the second American Revolution.

On Tuesday, Judge Amy Coney Barrett took a few minutes during her confirmation hearing to discuss her judicial philosophy, best known as originalism. It means, she explained, “that I interpret the Constitution as a law, I understand it to have the meaning that it had at the time people ratified it. That meaning doesn’t change over time and it is not up to me to update it or infuse my policy views into it.”

Now, originalism is subject to a good deal of criticism and critique as a method for decoding the Constitution. Zeroing in on its narrow preoccupation with language, Jonathan Gienapp, a historian of the early American republic at Stanford, charges originalists with building a framework “such that no amount of historical empiricism can ever challenge it,” in which neither “the Framers’ thoughts or agendas or the broader political, social, or intellectual contexts of the late eighteenth century” have any bearing on the so-called original public meaning of the Constitution.

Likewise, the historian Jack Rakove, also at Stanford, argues in a 2015 paper, “Tone Deaf to the Past: More Qualms About Public Meaning Originalism,” that the events of the American Revolution put “sustained pressure” on critical terms like “constitution” or “executive power” that cannot be understood without a historical understanding of this political and intellectual tumult. “Anyone who thinks he can establish conditions of linguistic fixation without taking that turbulent set of events into account is pursuing a fool’s errand,” Rakove writes.

But today, at least, I don’t want to challenge originalism as a method as much as I want to ask a question: When we search for the original meaning of the Constitution, which Constitution are we talking about?

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