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: Trump Killed the Pax Americana
There are, I suppose, some people who still imagine that if and when Donald Trump leaves office we’ll see a rebirth of civility and cooperation in U.S. politics. They are, of course, hopelessly naïve. America in the 2020s will remain a deeply polarized nation, rife with crazy conspiracy theories and, quite possibly, plagued by right-wing terrorism.
But that won’t be Trump’s legacy. The truth is that we were already well down that road before he came along. And on the other side, if the Democrats win big, I expect to see many of Trump’s substantive policies reversed, and then some. Environmental protection and the social safety net will probably end up substantially stronger, taxes on the rich substantially higher, than they were under Barack Obama.
Trump’s lasting legacy, I suspect, will come in international affairs. For almost 70 years America played a special role in the world, one that no nation had ever played before. We’ve now lost that role, and I don’t see how we can ever get it back.
You see, American dominance represented a new form of superpower hegemony.
Charles M. Blow: The Loss of Naïveté
How could we have been so blind? How could we have been so naïve? How did we not believe that the worst was possible until we plummeted into it?
We didn’t believe that a demagogic tyrant-worshiper could rise to the presidency.
The founders of this country worried obsessively about the rise of a demagogue, and the power of foreign influence on our democracy. And yet somehow, over the years, after centuries of American presidents behaving in ways that at least demonstrated a fealty to the country and its institutions and the power of precedent and legacy, those fears waned to a whisper.
Having a demagogue, partially installed by a Russian disinformation campaign no less, who exalted our enemies in the world and hammered our friends, was somewhat unthinkable. This was America. We would only go so far. We might race up to the precipice, but we would never hurl ourselves into the abyss. Wrong.
With the election of Donald Trump, America did the unthinkable, shocking itself and the world: It put the most powerful country in the world under the control of a lying, grifting, shady carnival conductor. He had no experience in governance and no expertise. His entire life was a game of smoke and mirrors, double talk and double-dealing.
The United States should threaten to retaliate — and I’m not talking about economic sanctions or legal indictments.
Put yourself in the shoes of Russian or Iranian leadership for a moment. Why not interfere with the voting in the U.S. presidential election? What could be more advantageous than catalyzing a bitter and protracted battle over the results of the election, with a chance of igniting civil unrest throughout the country? Sure, it might not work — but with little to lose and so much to gain, why not try? [..]
The risk is not hypothetical. American intelligence agencies, having hacked into Russian computer networks, report that Russia recently infiltrated some voting systems in the United States. If Russia or another country were to alter tallies or voter information in just a few swing states, it could threaten our confidence in the results of the election.
That is why this week, Joe Biden and President Trump should threaten punishing retaliation should another nation attempt such forms of electoral interference. They should stress that by “interference” they do not mean propaganda or influence campaigns, but rather direct attacks on the election, which are attacks on political independence and thus a form of illegal aggression. And they should warn that such attacks will lead to destructive consequences — as permitted by international law — for the offending nation and its leadership.
Trump’s latest ludicrous lie isn’t some brilliant campaign strategy — it’s just ego-fluffing, and it won’t work
Donald Trump’s stalwart belief that he can make the coronavirus pandemic disappear through the magic of bullshit has permeated all levels of his administration. Even so, it was a bit of a shock to see the White House Office of Science and Technology put out a press release on Tuesday giving credit to Trump for “ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Meanwhile, in the real world, hospitalizations are up 46% from a month ago. A reported 983 people died of the disease on the same day the White House crowed about “ending” the pandemic. On Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, the U.S. will pass 8.8 million cases and 227,000 deaths.
It remains unclear how this language about “ending” the pandemic even got into an official White House press release, since the report it’s announcing doesn’t say anything the end of this disaster, even though it features a lot of hilarious puffery of Trump for signing a couple of bills that were passed by Congress to provide money for research. That’s certainly proof that federal bureaucrats know the importance of flattering Trump’s massive ego, but nothing more.
All signs point to this being yet another situation where the White House is pressuring formerly-apolitical federal offices to serve as propaganda outlets for Trump’s disinformation machine.
Catherine Rampell: Trump didn’t build his border wall with steel. He built it out of paper.
The country’s immigration infrastructure may remain crippled long after Trump leaves office.
n the middle of his first year in office, President Trump endorsed a bill so radically anti-immigrant that even most Senate Republicans couldn’t stomach it.
Trump claimed the bill would create a “merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers.” The measure would have replaced the country’s current employer- and family-centered system with a points-based program, awarding immigrants points for criteria such as age and “extraordinary achievements,” though the only two achievements that would have earned points were Nobel Prizes and Olympic medals. [..]
As it turns out, the president didn’t need Congress after all. Without ever signing a single immigration law or completing his famous wall, Trump has cut the flow of foreigners by executive fiat. This fiscal year, the United States is on track to admit half the number of legal immigrants it did in 2016. This would bring levels of legal immigration down to what they were in 1987 — when the U.S. population was about a quarter smaller, substantially younger and less in need of working-age immigrants than it is today.