Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium 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: When MAGA Fantasy Meets Rust Belt Reality

Let’s face it: Make America Great Again was a brilliant political slogan. Why? Because it could mean different things to different people.

For many supporters of Donald Trump, MAGA was basically a promise to return to the good old days of raw racism and sexism. And Trump is delivering on that promise.

But for at least some Trump voters, it was a promise to restore the kind of economy we had 40 or 50 years ago — an economy that still offered lots of manly jobs in manufacturing and mining. Unfortunately for those who trusted Mr. Art of the Deal, Trump never had any idea how to deliver on that promise. And even if he had a clue about policymaking, he couldn’t have changed the long-term trajectory of our economy, which is moving steadily away from making physical stuff and toward providing services.

As a result, Trump, who cares above all about image, is now getting headlines that make a mockery of his campaign posturing — headlines about closing auto plants and lost jobs. Now, autos are a special case; overall manufacturing employment is still rising, although not especially fast. But relative to his grand promises, what’s happening is an embarrassing bust.

Eugene Robinson: Trump won’t go down without a fight

It didn’t take long Thursday for President Trump’s tweeted complaint about the Mueller probe — “will it just go on forever?” — to look like wishful thinking. Michael Cohen’s blockbuster court appearance made it clear that Trump is really going to hate the way the investigation ends.

Unless, of course, the president tries to end it himself with some sort of preemptive strike — which is why this is a dangerous moment. The walls are closing in, and by now we should know that Trump will put self-interest above such hindrances as the law and the Constitution. [..]

All roads seem to lead to Russia, and they are beginning to converge. Each new move from Mueller comes out of the blue; no one can be sure how much he knows or what he might do next. Trump must increasingly feel cornered. The one thing I can predict confidently is that he won’t go down without a fight.

Michelle Golfdberg: Trump Is Compromised by Russia

One of the chief questions in the Trump-Russia scandal has been whether Vladimir Putin has leverage over the president of the United States, and, if so, what that leverage looks like. The significance of the fabled “pee tape,” after all, is not that it would reveal Donald Trump to be a pervert bent on defiling the place where Barack Obama slept. Rather, the tape matters because, if real, it would show the president to be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

That’s also why evidence of Trump’s business involvement with Russia would be significant, as Trump himself acknowledged shortly before his inauguration, when he tweeted, “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

We still don’t know for certain if Russia has used leverage over Trump. But there should no longer be any doubt that Russia has leverage over him.

Catherine Rampell: Trump loves big deals. But let’s not hold our breath for one with China at the G-20.

President Trump loves making big deals. At least he loves saying he’s making big deals, regardless of whether there is any meaningful deal there at all.

In June, he announced a “deal” with North Korea for complete denuclearization; it was actually just a vaguely worded declaration, and there has been no sign of progress since. The following month, Trump hyped a “deal” with the European Union to liberalize trade — except, once again, there was no enforceable deal to speak of, just a temporary truce that’s falling apart.

In these and other high-stakes negotiations, the president has brought us and other nations to the edge of the abyss. And after doing so, he has demanded praise for opting not to make that final push.

This weekend, at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Trump will head into trade negotiations with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Given Trump’s track record, we should judge any “deal” announcement — if there is one — with a boulder of salt, and remember what actual success would include: major, concrete Chinese commitments to correct ongoing transgressions against the United States and other foreign competitors.

Richard Wolffe: After Cohen’s guilty plea, the threads of Trump Inc are fraying

The great unraveling has begun. Between the latest guilty plea by Donald Trump’s fixer and the breakdown of a guilty plea by his campaign chairman, the threads are fraying on the scheming enterprise that is Trump Inc.

The man pulling at the many loose ends of this loosey-goosey business is working methodically in ways that are only clear in hindsight. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is a strategic mastermind cornering a gang of simpletons watched by a peanut gallery of gawkers and hecklers.

The spectacle is both fascinating to watch and essential to the rebuilding of the rule of law. The United States urgently needs to resume its role as a global example of good government. Especially when its own government is rotten to the core.